Dover Beach, An Analysis Essay

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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
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Listen! You hear the grating roar." (6, 9) He wanted her to see and hear the calmness and beauty of the water at that moment. He then goes on to suggest a continuous personal battle going on in his life, probably dealing with love, which leads him to a feeling and tone of sorrow, "of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, at their return, up the high strand, begin, and cease, and then again begin... and bring the eternal note of sadness." (10-12) I think Arnold is using the waves as an allusion, representing the joy and pain of relationships which sometimes leads to unhappiness, but can also lead to pure bliss. Arnold speaks of this when he says, "into his mind the turbid ebb and flow of misery." (17-18)

In lines eighteen and nineteen the author says, "of human misery; we find also in the sound a thought." Here he is associating human suffering and misery to the sea. Like the sea, things may appear perfect and wonderful from the outside, but can be completely flawed on the inside. At this point in the poem Arnold is speaking of the unkind reality of the world, "the sea of faith was once, too, at the full, and round the earth's shore." (21-22) He uses the metaphor, "sea of faith" for time; a time when religion and faith were untouched by modern ideals and revolutions. I think Arnold is indicating a comparison between the tide of the sea, which represents
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