Dover Beach By Matthew Arnold Essay

1561 words - 6 pages

Written by Matthew Arnold around 1851 while one his honeymoon, Dover Beach is a dramatic monologue addressed to his wife, Frances Wightman, and “any woman listening to the observations of any man” (Cummings); during this time, the world had just come out of the Romantic era and was entering the era of the industrial revolution. New inventions in technology were changing the world and science such as biology and astronomy were challenging long held beliefs of the church and by the church. The church which was going through trials of its own with the Church of England splitting into the low, broad, and high churches (Unknown). In Dover Beach, Matthew Arnold writes of Religion and the Industrial Revolution and how they affected the human condition at the time and these themes and concerns are just as relevant today was they were 159 years ago.
One of the themes and central messages in Dover Beach are the “Challenges to the validity of long-standing theological and moral precepts have shaken the faith of people in God and Religion” (Cummings). During Arnold’s time new secularist nationalism, humanism, evolution, and religious conservatism by transcendentalists were cropping up and even sometimes taking the place of the old traditional church beliefs (Boulton; Unknown)“the existence of god and the whole Christian scheme of things was cast in doubt” (Cummings). This shift was the result of the changing Industrial Revolution and numerous social and economic problems due to this shift (Unknown). Many in Victorian society were conflicted and “a loss of faith for many became a phase throughout Victorian society as a whole” (Unknown). The writers, who at the time felt their duty was to write of the common experiences and ideas of society adjusted to such changes or floundered (Unknown). Those in society and the writing world who did not adjust saw this change as one that took “a terrible toll on human happiness” (Unknown) and often did not hold to clearly defined faith values but were indifferent, neutral, ambiguous and focused on the loss or removal of faith at the time instead Just as the world was moving from the tactile work of a more agricultural society to a more “crueler reality of soulless steam engines” (Dickie) so the old religion of “light” was fading. This is the very sentiment Arnold is expressing when he writes “the light/ Gleams and is gone” (ln. 3-4) (Cummings).
In the modern age now this great shift and change is very much present but as the result of the great evolution of technology with computers, iPods, media, etc. instead of the Industrial Revolution and the religion question is still out there. Is there room for religion in this electronic age and if so, where? Religion and faith these days seem to more of a selling point for books (the Left Behind series), movies (The Passion of the Christ), and popular trends such as televangelists like the 700 Club 4. Religion is often brought up in political controversial topics, especially...

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