"Dover Beac" analysis

Essay by salokHigh School, 10th gradeB, April 2006

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"Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold is a topical poem written during the 19th century. The poem describes the inevitable rise and fall of the tide and the wearing away of the beach, a process that has gone on since the dawn of man and continues forever even as civilizations rise and fall. It then directly relates the sea to Faith, showing the disillusionment in faith that many Victorian era poets were facing, as they lost faith in the church's ability to guide them. "Naked shingles of the world" are revealed as the tide of faith goes out - the truth is uncovered and disappointing. In this world of constant and inevitable loss, darkness, death, defeat, and lack of guidance, the author can turn to only one thing for comfort - his love with his wife. Although the rest of the world is dark and disheartening, this man and his wife have each other to turn to for comfort and support.

"Dover Beach" consists of four stanzas, each containing a variable number of verses. The first stanza has 14 lines, the second 6, the third 8 and the fourth 9. As for the metrical scheme, there is no apparent rhyme scheme, but rather a free handling of the basic iambic meters. In stanza 3 there is a series of open vowels, "Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar". A generally falling rhythm can be detected and continues into stanza 4. In this last stanza one can find seven lines of iambic pentameter, with the rhyme scheme of abbacddcc.

The thoughts do not appear as obviously structured and organized. In the first stanza the rhythm of the poem imitates the "movement of the tide". "Dover Beach" is a melancholic poem. Arnold uses the means of 'pathetic fallacy', when...