Matthew Arnold Essay

1734 words - 7 pages

Matthew Arnold was a poet of the 19th century. In his work, he often expressed a melancholy mood. Arnold was considered a perceiver based on his poetry. As Richard Hutton stated, “[Matthew Arnold] is neither the poet of mere self-culture, nor the solitary interpreter of nature, but something between the two.”(10) Arnold analyzed certain concepts or ideas in an effort to explain and understand life and the world around him. He was also known as a critic, because in his poems he criticized the elements of life, anything from aging to death, dissecting each element through description and subliminally informing the reader of his view on the matter. He used descriptive diction to paint a vivid image for his audience to not only contemplate his message, but to also visual it. This technique made him a literary artist, one who creates visual masterpieces through proper word choice. He also magnified his literary artwork by utilizing strong connotations in his poetry to infer meanings while preventing the poem from becoming prose. Due to the fact that his ideas in his writing related more to today’s time than his own, Arnold's conceptual style was said to be modern. Arnold used metaphors to form connections between his ideas and the physical world, or to form understandings. He had the tendency in all of his work to personify objects or even concepts to further elaborate his theme. His poetry consistently shifted between tones, so that the reader remained active by following the narrator through the stanzas. Matthew Arnold used various literary devices to establish gloomy images of his perception of different elements of life in an attempt to explain to his audience his interpretations of these individual subjects, with that he has established a poetry style among his writing.
“Dover Beach” has been called the first modern poem.(Dickey 73) In this poem Matthew Arnold is expressing his views of the world through an extended metaphor of the beach, showing how the world appears to be good but once examined further, is actually the opposite. Matthew Arnold incorporated a great deal of images in his poetry to help his audience further understand the meaning of his poem. When the poet says “the cliffs of England stand, glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay” (846) he paints a picture for the reader of an overhang of a mountain sparkling in the moonlight over the peaceful water. Then Arnold changes this image when he says “where ignorant armies clash by night.” (847) This image removes the harmony and the bliss, and replaces it with violence and discord. He uses images like these throughout the poem to show the reader how he really feels about the world around him. The narrator refers to the night air as being “sweet” and the bay being “tranquil,” all expressing a happy tone. However the shift occurs at the end of that stanza when Arnold writes “the eternal note of sadness” (846), this line generates a more negative tone to the poem, and just like the...

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