Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold

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Word choice, denotation and connotation Word choice refers to the poet's poetic diction. In ‘Dover Beach', Matthew Arnold uses formal diction. He chose his words carefully. When he says that the world does not give us ‘love', he means that the world lacks imagination and can know very little about time past, which is crystallized in ancient literature like a leaf in amber, knowledge of which is an essential precondition for love. He does not mean that love does not exist, but that it comes only from a partner who, unlike the world can share the exquisite perception and resolution such as he describes in ‘Dover Beach'. For the word choice of his work, the repetition of ‘neither' and ‘nor' in this stanza produces a series of denials, for ‘neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain (line 33 -34). If none of these basic human values exist, it raises the question of what remains at all. His usage of these words provides us with a very depressing image of the world. Arnold uses some denotation in ‘Dover Beach';
1.) Straits (line 3) – a narrow area of water that loins two larger areas of water. In the poem, it refers to the Straits of Dover, i.e. the sea between Dover and Calais, about twenty miles across separating the English Channel from the North Sea.
2.) Girdle (line 23) – an item of ladies undergarment. In the poem. Arnold happily embellishes his lofty meditation with a delicate allusion to be Symposium of Plato.
3.) Melancholy (line 23) - mainly literary and of the feeling of sadness and of being without hope.
4.) Shingle (line 28) – small stones on a beach. In the poem, it refers to pebbles beach, originating form Scandinavian word.
5.) Darkling (line 35) – darkened or darkening; poesy for ‘in the dark'. Dating as far back to Shakespearean period.

Basically, connotation refers to the images or feelings that a word suggests to us in our mind. Example in the poem is in line 7 to 9 of the word ‘only'… ‘listen'

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