Critical Appreciation of DOVER BEACH by Matthew Arnold

Matthew Arnold

A Critical Appreciation of the lyrical poem Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold. It begins by highlighting the bright beautiful aspects that life can bring when he has a couple together looking out at the ocean which in this poem is an extended metaphor the speaker begins to realize that life is full of sadness when he reflects upon the world that came before him and how that led to the hopelessness and misery that surrounds them in the present day. He concludes by saying that they need to try to remain faithful to one another even though they exist in a world that is like a battlefield, a place where hopelessness exists with only the slightest bit of happiness. Dover beach was written by Matthew Arnold during the Victorian time period on our literary timeline and Arnold wrote this around the time that England was colonizing all over the world leaving him on the brink between the old world and the new and in our poem Dover Beach that is very clearly present that he was having a hard time dealing with this change and this style of poetry was the lyric style poetry and just the way that this poem was written. It really does demonstrate the struggles and changes Arnold was experiencing in his own life. There is an extended metaphor that the sea is just like our life the light which is brought up represents faith and as we see in the third and fourth lines light gleams and is gone showing that faith can be there one moment book on the next there's also an ongoing theme of night and darkness representing the loss of light or faith in a world. The pebbles in the sea represent the eternal note of sadness because they are constantly being rolled to and fro from the shore.

The tone of the first stanza is tranquil because of the calm metaphor of the sea going back and forth just like our life so now we can analyze stanza 2 which is Sophocles long ago heard it on the Aegean and it brought into his mind the turbid egg and flow of human misery we find also in the sound of thought hearing it by this distant northern sea so it begins with an allusion to Sophocles who was best known as being a great human thinker and here he's referenced to thinking just about humanity in general and it's just about how awful it really is. The line 31  says the turbid ab and flow it means he's thinking about the muddy and murky and very unclear parts that we have in just in life in general and ebb and flow usually is associated with coming and going so it's just the great coming and goings of life that we have and we when he says we in that fourth line he's not just talking about himself that's showing how he's including everyone how no one is free from the misery that is life everyone goes through it no one can escape it and then he says in line for find also in the sound a thought which is ironic because you can't hear thoughts but he's saying that thoughts they're just so loud and they can be so distant but yet you can still hear them and it's also all just connecting it's showing how connected the past is to the present how life is still the same as it was hundreds of years ago despite all the differences there really are still the same.When you get down to the end of it and this stanza it also is the beginning of a shift that we found and you can tell us the shift because the first stanza that is when the speaker is in the present and he's talking to and then he's talking to his lover about the past so it's a shift from present to past which is pretty significant in this poem so now stands a three the faith was once - at the full and round earth Shore lay like the folds of a bright girdle world but now I only hear its melancholy long withdrawing roar we're treating to the breath of the night wind down the vast edges dreary and naked shingles of the world so the first line the sea of faith that's a metaphor for an ocean of religious belief and the next line it says that that ocean it was full and round so it's saying religion used to be big and important in our world because it lay like the folds of a bright girdle world so that simile means that that ocean or that big pile of religious belief it used to be happy and full of potential but in that but is important because it's almost no showing a change in this poem and showing how the world was happy before but now it really isn't that happy anymore because now he's saying that he only hears it's melancholy long withdrawing more which is saying that the sea has lost all happiness and it's just stuck in deep sadness and that is just that symbolizes the world's loss of faith which helps contribute to the misery that is left in the world and retreating to the breath of the night wind that is a deep contrast to something earlier in the poem when in the first and it said sweet is the night air because I was saying that I was happy and nice but now this breath of not the night wind it's making. 

It sounds very hopeless and alone and it just very bad and then down the best addressed rear naked shingles of the world that diction choice air of the word naked is very important because that symbolizes just hopelessness and someone who's just afraid and alone and scared so the world is just full of unhappy things people have lost their religion they don't they don't longer know what to believe in anymore in this stanza really is full of just a more darker language than most of the other ones even though it does start out a little happier of let us be true to one another for the world which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams so various so beautiful so new has really neither joy nor love nor light nor certitude nor peace or help for pain and we're here as on a Darkling plain swept with confused alarms of struggling and flight we're ignorant armies clashed by night after the final shift of the poem.

We are back into the present time where the speaker is talking with his love he uses a simile in line three calling the earth like a land of dreams this says that the world is only truly happy and dreams not in real life and tells us people's false perceptions of the world there's it that it is so beautiful and new that gives us the reality that the world really doesn't have joy love light or certitude or peace this is how the reader knows that the speaker now truly sees the world realistically he again repeats the ongoing theme of darkness calling the world a Darkling plain to finish the poem off he calls the world a battlefield full of confusion and ignorance in the darkness. The tone has completely changed from what started as tranquil to now being grim and dark so we put the theme of Dover Beach as life is grim and hopeless despite moments of light and happiness and then the next thing we did was develop that theme into an essay based on the prompt how does the author reinforce meaning through his use of figurative language tone structure and other literary features this is what we thought could possibly be used to organize an essay on Dover Beach. We organize the essay based on the shifts in the poem which is seen in our thesis and three topic sentences our thesis says Matthew Arnold uses a variety of literary devices to show how life is grim and hopeless despite moments of light and happiness our first topic sentences the poem begins with a happy couple on a beach. One starts to realize that life is made up of brief moments of joy but prolonged periods of sadness then after the poems first shift, our second topic sentence says the tone shifts from one of tranquility to one of blank were the speaker begins to reflect on life in the misery of past generations and finally after our poems last shift our topic sentence says the poem returns to the present as the speaker realizes that life's miseries will be around eternally making him want to treasure the precious time he has with his love.

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