Comparison: Dover Beach And Do Essay

1272 words - 5 pages

A man stands on the cliffs of Dover, looking out at the ocean. He is self-absorbed and experiencing feelings of dejection. This man goes on for stanzas uttering thoughts to himself, at least that is what one could surmise from the indifferent tone. Then, when the reader is convinced that the man is simply philosophizing out loud to himself, the man addresses for the first time another party. That party is a woman, one that he refers to as "love." Funny, she is almost not visible for the entire poem and then suddenly she is. His aloofness to her presence ends the poem in such a way that the reader is left to wonder and inquire about the whole picture the remainder of the story. The poem "The Dover Bitch: A Criticism of Life," written by Anthony Hecht in 1968, undermines and debases the introspection and romanticism of Matthew Arnold's, "Dover Beach," written about a century earlier in 1867.Introspection is the reflective examination of one's thought process and sensory experience. From the very first line of "The Dover Bitch," the introspection of the Matthew Arnold's poem is completely deconstructed. The parody is a casual conversation that one might hear in a bar. The speaker could easily be the local bartender in any town. He indulges a listener and begins to tell a tale about a woman whose only thought about her time on the cliffs of Dover with Matthew was how nice his whiskers would have felt on her neck. In the original poem the girl is there with Matthew but barely mentioned because he is too wrapped up in his own thoughts to notice her. In the parody, however, the woman is the main subject of the poem but ironically enough she is not there. This is the crux of how the original's introspection is debased. There is not even a hint of self-reflection in the parody; it is simply a man talking about a woman he knows and turning her into some sort of flighty creature who cares nothing about deep thoughts.Looking back on "Dover Beach," one could ponder if Matthew Arnold was a novice philosopher, simply because that is what philosophers do best: introspect. Each line in "Dover Beach" is overflowing with "deep thoughts." One might ask if Matthew Arnold was truly being deep or just shallow; however, if he was being shallow, then there is little purpose to the shallowness of the parody. Although every line portrays deep thought, lines 32-36 read as especially introspective.So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain...The quote explains how important it is that he, Matthew, and the mysterious woman be true to one another. This is important, for the world is a cold place, vacant of all that is good. Even the parody's word choices display Hecht's thought that Matthew's words lack the merit to be reiterated. For instance, lines 4-6 are so banal and extremely mocking that the parody takes Matthew's poem and turns it into thoughtless and...

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