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Analysis "Dover Beach"

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Analysis of "Dover Beach"

The Victorian Age was a different time period. It was the beginning of a new civilization based on industry, time, and money. The values brought about by the changing times were hard for the British to cope with. Conflicting ideas of science and religion, education and work, and not reflecting upon actions, caused confusion that was associated with the Victorian Age. Mathew Arnold observed the problem of the changing times and sought after answers to the problems that he and his country were faced with. In Dover Beach he portrays a view of a lost civilization, sees the future, and seeks out solutions.

The Victorian Age caused big changes in British Civilization as it moved into science and industry. However, while progress was made in some fields other areas suffered. For instance, religion was being contradicted by ideas of evolution and scientific origin theories. Some individuals questioned their faith and the image of the world around them, which was based on God's creation. The industrial changes that took place quickly took over the economy. The effects of mass production changed working conditions and changed people's lives. This negative impact on the people's lives was Arnold's key point that he reflects in his poetry.

In Dover Beach Mathew Arnold expresses what he feels is happening to his country. In the first stanza he is looking at the sea and watching the waves slap the shoreline. His tone at first is cheery and exciting. This is obvious in the line, "Glimmering and vast, out on the tranquil bay. Come to the window, sweet is the night air!" When he turns his gaze to the shores of England, he observes the rolling waves that remind him of something that changes his tone to sorrow. "Listen! You hear the grating roar; Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return up the high strand, Begin, and cease, and then again begin, With tremulous cadence slow, and bring, The eternal note of sadness in." In his next stanza, the cause of his sorrow is apparent. He remembers that Sophocles once attributed the ebb and flow of the waves with human misery. This misery is something that Arnold relates to, being a human, and also because he receives sorrow from his feelings towards the changes that are occurring in England during the Victorian Period.

In the third stanza, Arnold associates the Sea of Faith with the decline of religion. "The Sea of Faith, Was once, too, at the full; But now I only hear; It's melancholy, long, withdrawing roar." Mathew Arnold sees that religion was once full and whole, but now it slowly recedes like a tide that only ebbs. He sees the cliffs surrounding the Sea of Religion as, "vast edges drear," and its beaches are, "naked shingles of the world." This stanza is definitely influenced by the loss of faith that occurred as a result of the theory of evolution. In the fourth stanza, Mathew Arnold pleads with his lover, "let us be true To one another!" His plead is also his solution to a world of confusion and chaos. While he reflects upon an external work with, "neither joy, nor love, nor light,



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