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A dramatic monologue is spoken by a solo speaker, and it is addressed to a silen

t listener whose presence is felt. The speaker is usually in a state of some int
ense emotional crisis which initiates the speech that combines suspense and inte
nsity of drama with the passion and melody of the lyric.
Arnold's poem Dover Beach is an elegy on the crumbling of faith in the industria
lized and commercialized world of man. It is a solo speech that ventilates a dee
p sense of doubt and anguish, comparing the calmness of the Dover sea which is f
ull to the brim and the receding 'sea of faith' from the shores of human habitat
ion. The speaker addresses someone, presumably his beloved, as is evident in ' C
ome to the window'. The presence of the silent listener is also suggested at the
beginning of the concluding verse--' Ah love, let us be true to one another'.
Dover Beach is a dramatic monologue with the lover as the speaker and the ladylo
ve as the silent interlocutor. The poem aesthetisizes the apprehension of a sens
itive spiritualist at the erosion of faith from the Victorian life which had bec
ome crassly materialistic. It is also an elegy ,for the speaker-poet mourns for
the recession of faith in Christianity. According to the poet, life without fait
h is barbaric. If civilization becomes corrupted, war can not be far behind.
. Within the poem, a young man calls his lover to the window, intending to share
with her a pair of landscapes, one external, lit by haunting melancholic moonli
ght, and the other dark, fearful, and internal. Arnold relies on raw emotional h
onesty to draw the reader to what he feels is the moral crisis in an age of spir
itual discomfort, the loss of faith, meaning, and innocence in the wake of both
the rise of science and the decline of Empire. Arnold’s metaphor of the “Sea of Fait
h” expresses this sentiment particularly well, presenting the reader with a symbol
of a lost time where religion stood strong without the doubts brought about by
progress, science, and Darwinism.
"Dover Beach” is broken into four uneven stanzas. The first contains fourteen line
s, with the first half-dozen consisting of a rather straightforward description
of the moonlit seashore. Here, Arnold sets a placid tone, using words like “calm,” “fa
ir,” and “sweet,” the building blocks from which he crafts the mood of the remainder o
f the poem. He repeatedly uses the word “is” to show the reader what can be seen, “The
sea is calm to-night. / The tide is full”. Soon, however, he reaches a climax wit
h, on the French coast "the light / Gleams and is gone”, stealing the light away f
rom the reader, leaving in its place only darkness. In a metaphorical sense of t
he word, not only the light is gone, but also certainty. The darkness makes it h
ard to define both one’s own and somebody else’s position, and one can never be cert
ain that the light will ever return”. As the stanza continues, Arnold’s narrator cal
ls his companion to the window, inviting the reader to share the tranquil scene,
but this pleasant landscape begins to change as he describes the point “Where the
sea meets the moon-blanched land”, invoking the pale whiteness of bone. This unco
mfortable image is followed by another, as the “grating roar” of pebbles flung by th
e sea serves to bring “The eternal note of sadness in”.
The second stanza of “Dover Beach” is the shortest at six lines. Arnold makes his fi
rst intertextual reference here, invoking the tragedies of Sophocles, and ponder
ing whether the playwright may also have been reminded of “human misery” while liste
ning to the “turbid ebb and flow” of the sea. Arnold discovers “also in the sound a th
ought”, but leaves it to the reader to wonder just what that thought might be.
The eight lines of the third stanza begin to explore Arnold’s unspoken thought, in
forming the reader that “The Sea of Faith / Was once, too, at the full, and round
earth s shore / Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled”. Arnold’s metaphoric “Se
a” is one of the strongest images in the poem, reminding the reader of a simpler,
more comfortable time where humanity found definition through being jacketed by
a tradition of faith in God. In the next few lines, however, Arnold tears away t
his security blanket.These “naked shingles” chill the reader, exposing him to the bi
tter future feared by Arnold, a future in which rationality and science have ban
ished God to the fringes, made Him obsolete. Arnold’s vision of the retreating “Sea
of Faith” feels hauntingly prophetic when one considers that in 1859, just a few s
hort years after the poem’s birth, Charles Darwin published The Origin of the Spec

Many people began to doubt what was written in the book o f Genesis. is full of cruelty. This is Arnold’s second intertextual image drawn from classical mythology. In his poem “Dover Beach” Matthew Arnold laments on the world’s loss of reli gious faith but at the same time he appoints/ designates love as the solution to the problem of isolation and separation between man and God. love. this time from Thucydides account of the Battle of Epipolae in The Peloponnesian War . let us be tr ue / To one another!”Arnold’s answer provides only empty hope amid an uncertain futu re. The Bible wa s becoming questioned. known also as "The Woman Question”. Arnold offers a solution. At the close of the poem. as it is swallowed up by the gathering momentum of the poem’s powerfully dark p icture of our homelessness in a cold. it was the age of transition and an era of the crisis of faith. is a dramatic monologue in which the poetic person a. “they could see the outline of figures in front of them. Within the nine lines of “Dover Beach’s” final stanza. indifferent world”. / Swept w ith confused alarms of struggle and flight. / Where ignorant armies clash by nig ht”.ies. published in 1867. just as he did in the first. It was th e time of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species publication (1859). . love is then invoked as the only sol ace. Central to understanding this poem is recognising that through it Arnold is lame nting the loss of faith or culture in his society and painting a picture of a wo rld that. addre ssing his companion directly. Thucydides describes a melee obscured by darkness. as a result of this loss of faith. uncertainty and violence. forever marking a tidal shift in the struggle between religion and science. In hindsi ght. invention and exploration. Arnold leaves the reader on a “darkling plain. presents the fear of being alone in the a ge of dwindling faith and fading religion. particularly the horrors of trench warfare which would be seen in the First World War. discussion and argume nt about the nature and role of woman. His revolu tionary theory of evolution undermined the foundations of religion. “Ah. God seemed to be powerless against the rising age of the machine. these lines eerily seem to predict the bloodiness and brutality to come in the Twentieth Century. this security is f leeting. without a doubt. It was a per iod of economic and social changes. industrial revolution. It ceased to be treated as a reliable source of information on how th e universe was created. Stefan Collini reasons that. He suggests that fidelity can somehow fill the dee p fissure vacated by vanishing faith. “Dover Beach”. As in the third stanza. an extraordinarily complex age. It was a time of tremendous scientific progress. “Ostensibly. but could not be sure whether these belonged to their own side or not”. where the combatants could not tell friend from foe. What is more. the voice of Arnold’s contemporaries. but almost immediately this comes to seem something of a perfunctory gestur e. The Victorian Era was.

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