Dover Beach, An Analysis

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Dover Beach is located in England, on the eastern shores near France. It is also the setting, and title of a poem written by a well educated man named Matthew Arnold, who is well known as the first modern critic of poetry. According to an article in The Literary Encyclopedia, Arnold was a very spiritual person, but claimed poetry prevailed over philosophy, science, and religion, due to the principle that those things are based on facts, which can be proven wrong over time. The article also said he believed poetry is an expression based on ideas, and ideas, which are faith, cannot be proven wrong. He was quoted by The Literary Encyclopedia as saying that poetry is "the breath and finer spirit of knowledge."

In 1867 Arnold wrote his most famous poem "Dover Beach." It was written only a few weeks after he was married and I believe it was addressed to his wife. Arnold probably composed the poem while sitting on Dover Beach looking out into the sea with pebbles smothering the shore. The poem is about his struggle with life, love, and faith in religion. He is more or less telling a story, and trying to talk to his wife about their

relationship and how he thinks love should be, using the sea and the waves to aid in his descriptions. He also uses the tide as an allusion for faith, revealing that in this period of time it was constantly changing; therefore faith alone isn't enough to complete our lives. He suggests that love be our strength and guiding light throughout our lives.

Arnold uses metaphor, and imagery throughout the poem to convey his feeling to the reader. The author begins the poem with a very peaceful tone, "the sea is calm tonight, the tide is full, the moon lies fair upon the sraights..." (1-3) With this passa...

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...out love and the wife of Matthew Arnold, or whether I think of it as a poem indicating the on going religious predicament of that time period, it remains a poem explaining a struggle worth fighting for what you believe

in, and the trials and tribulations that come with it. In the end, the only person you can count on is yourself and the one you love.

Works Cited

Arnold, Matthew. "Dover Beach." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction,

Poetry, and Drama. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 4th compact

ed. New York: Longman, 2005. 774.

Literature, Matthew Arnold. Literary Encyclopedia Online. 2004. Jennifer

Wallace, University of Cambridbe. 12 October 2004.

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