Analysis Of "Dover Beach" By Matthew Arnold

1497 words - 6 pages

"Dover beach" is a beautiful poem written by a famous poet, Matthew Arnold; from the romantic era. The poem is melancholic and pessimistic in nature and shows human misery through the ages. The diction changes as the poem progresses, from the beginning till the end, soft and loving to hard and rough, respectively. The images are centered around the ocean, this is to show the analogy that life can be both turbulent as well as placid. The time that the poem occurs is through the night, having mystery and possibly some romance. The poet intricately weaves nature and man together in his poem. The first stanza describes the sea, whereas the second stanza talks about historical philosophers, the penultimate stanza is once again linked with the sea and finally the last stanza is about mankind once again.

This poem has four stanzas, each containing 14,6,8,9 lines respectively. This poem is comprised of free verse, though there is an iambic stress on each line. The first stanza has a rhyme scheme of "abacdbdcefcffg", the second stanza has a rhyme scheme of "abacbc". In the third stanza only half of the lines rhyme, the other four do not, the rhyme scheme is "abcdbedf". The last stanza's lines have iambic pentameter and a rhyme scheme of 'abbacddcc". The reason for a fluctuation in the rhyme scheme is to portray the unpredictability of life, which is similar to the sea; that has a mind of its own.

Dover beach is a large beach on coastal England opposite from France, where there are great white cliffs that give it its name "Dover", after the white doves. This is a romantic place, and therefore the poet chose it to be the title of the poem. The title is a slight misnomer, as the poem does not deal with romantic ideals, instead evokes the social issues of humanity. The great usage of a literary feature; pathetic fallacy, causes the reader to associate the sound of the waves with the nature of human misery.

The poem starts with "The sea is calm to-night", this is a direct contrast with the last line "Where ignorant armies clash by night", the first line shows a vast 'sea' that is peaceful. The last line on the other hand shows the result when armies fight in the night; they do not know their enemies from their allies, and there will be great causalities on both sides. The persona continues to comment on the tides and moon in, "The tide is full, the moon lies fair", shows a scientific fact that the moon's gravitational pull causes tides in the ocean, this was well understood by the poets from the romantic era. During this time, most people's belief was waning from religion, and attracted towards the sciences. This was due to the lack of explanation in religious scripts. The closeness of the beach and France is shown in "Upon the straits;-on the French coast the light/ Gleams and is gone;...

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