Discuss how Arnold uses the Sea as a metaphor to show his growing concern for the faithlessness of man.
In Dover Beach, Matthew Arnold describes an evening he spent with his lover. The picturesque sights and sounds around him remind him of the pathetic state of man. Arnold was agnostic at the time he wrote the poem and his despair and disillusionment towards religion is highlighted through the poem. He shows the reader how the coming of Scientific reasoning brought about through Imperialism, Darwinism and the Industrial Revolution has affected the religious beliefs of people like himself making them doubt the religious faith that was once embedded in their lifestyle and protected them from the uncertainties of life.
Arnold starts by describing his surroundings, on the surface everything appears fine, the 'sea is calm' and the 'moon lies fair' but after deeper observation he notices the 'turbid ebb and flow of human misery' and hears the 'eternal note of sadness.' He uses the 'sea of faith' as a metaphor to show how man has lost his faith in God and religion. Arnold had his faith shaken by scientific beliefs. A man without his faith is no better than a beach that lies exposed, naked and vulnerable after the tide has retreated, or as insignificant as pebbles or gravel left on the shore once the sea has withdrawn, stripping him of the comfort and solace that faith in religion and god can alone provide him with. This thereby emphasizes on the insignificance of man without the sea of faith.
Arnold begins on a nostalgic note by talking about how the 'Sea of Faith / Was once at its full, and round the earth's shore / Lay like folds of a bright girdle furled.' The sea of faith encircling the earths shore could also probably be at it's full, as at the time England was expanding to the farthest horizon and across many islands, spreading its religious ideals as well. Arnold also describes how his ancestors were better off than him and his contemporaries, who had...
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