The analysis of the Text Dover Beach by Mathew Arnold...
Mathew Arnold “Dover Beach” The sea is calm tonight. The tide is full, the moon lies fair Upon the straits; on the French coast the light Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! Only, from the long line of spray Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land, Listen! you hear the grating roar Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return, up the high strand, Begin, and cease, and then again begin, With tremulous cadence slow, and bring The eternal note of sadness in. Sophocles long ago Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow Of human misery; we Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea. The Sea of Faith Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Retreating, to the breath Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear And naked shingles of the world. Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, 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 Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Matthew Arnold is experimenting with some of the conventions of traditional poetry. Sure, it's not a real crazy experiment, but the freedom he takes with form, meter, and rhyme can still give us a lot of insight into the poem's meaning. Let's start with the poem's rhythm. The basic meter of this poem is iambic (iamb is a group of two syllables where the second syllable is stressed or emphasized, and the first is not) Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;. But in these lines the rhythm stumbles: Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight Breaking the iambic form helps him to make us feel how the world itself is changed and broken. We get more or less the same effect with the rhyme: Sophocles long ago (A) Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought (B) Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow (A) Of human misery; we (C) Find also in the sound a thought, (B) Hearing it by this distant northern sea. (C) So in this stanza the rhyme scheme is ABACBC. Every line has a rhyming partner Now let's look at the next stanza: The Sea of Faith (A) Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore (B) Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. (C) But now I only hear (D) Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, (B) Retreating, to the breath (A?) Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear (D) And naked shingles of the world. (C) As we've seen in the stanza above, Arnold is capable of making perfect rhymes. But here he chooses not to. In this dark new world, faith has no natural partner. Just like with the meter, he needs a new kind of poetic form to represent this new experience. We don't have some basic facts about the speaker. We don't even have a name or a gender, how old he is, or what he looks like. However, we know that he's standing in a room in Dover, England with his lover, and listening to the ocean. He's also educated enough to be able to drop a quick allusion to Socrates. As for the theme and main idea - "Dover Beach" isn't really about some obvious details its universal. It seems that the speaker wants us to know how he understands The Entire World.
He shows us that he has a specific view of the present state of mankind. One of the main points is that human happiness tries to survive against the chaotic darkness of life. The world "Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light." He's nostalgic for a time when there was more faith in the world, and he tells us that "The Sea of Faith / was once at the full", but it's hard to tell when that was. There is also some hope for love, but when it comes to it, the speaker sounds a little depressed. The setting of the poem is in the title. This poem is set at the beach in Dover, on the southeastern coast of England. The author also uses special sounds to create a contrastive impression. In the first stanzas we hear the smooth, calm rhythm of the waves, their soft sounds. For example: "The tide is full, the moon lies fair." The sound of the words "full" and "fair" is as relaxed as the meter and the imagery. Then, slowly, new sounds start to appear. The word "grating" is the first sign of trouble. There's nothing happy or calming about a grating sound. It's onomatopoeia. This figure is used in the rest of the poem (harshsounding words like "naked shingles") Finally, in the last lines, comes the chaos. The rhythm of the waves is changed to the harsh sounds of battle and fear. For example: "Where ignorant armies clash by night". Words like "ignorant" and "clash" shows that the chaos is complete. The speaker of "Dover Beach" argues that all of the beauty of the natural world is an illusion, distracting us from the essential misery of being alive. While the speaker's conclusions about life are increasingly grim, the beauty of the scenery he describes reflects the darkness of his thoughts. He has conflicting feelings about the world and human life. Thus "Dover Beach" shows us that sadness is the only eternal aspect of human life. Biographical
In 1850 Matthew Arnold met and fell in love with Frances Lucy Wightman, the daughter of Sir William Wightman, Judge of the Court of Queen's Bench. He wished to marry her, but her father objected to this because Arnold did not seem to have the financial means to support a wife and future children. At that times Arnold earned about £ 300 a year from his Lansdowne House appointment. The Oriel fellowship was worth a further £ 120, but this of course would not be paid if he got married. He was forbidden to see his beloved until he could prove that his financial situation had changed. However, both were able to exchange letters on a regular basis. In August 1850, the Judge took his family on a trip to Flanders (via Calais) and Germany. Arnold, himself on a trip to the Italian lakes, stayed in Calais for a few days, just hoping to catch a glimpse of Frances Lucy. In the spring of the following year, Matthew Arnold was appointed an Inspector of Schools, a job which would earn him £ 700 a year — enough to support a family. The couple announced their engagement in early April , married on the 10 June 1851, and spent their one-week honeymoon at Alverston in Hampshire. On the 1 September, they took a ferry from Dover to Calais and then travelled
on to Paris. It is not clear whether the "Dover Beach" was written on September the 1st, or whether Arnold had already written a draft of it earlier. Parts of "Dover Beach" seem to be quite unusual for a honeymoon scenery. The general melancholy of the poem greatly contrasts the happy situation in which Matthew Arnold found himself. Putting the name of the place at the top of the poem is a way to underline its importance. It's probably also worth mentioning that the cliffs of Dover are hugely symbolic for England. They represent the English nation, and they were a familiar sight for travelers coming and going to Europe. That makes him use all those visual images at the beginning of the poem. In the first stanza, we get some more detail about the scene. First, the speaker lets us know that the ocean is "calm". He also tells us that it's high tide and the there's a moon lighting up the water. He's also with someone else, whom he asks to "come to the window" (which lets us know that he's not alone, and he's indoors). The speaker can hear the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, and see a light "on the French coast." From there, we take off into historical and metaphorical worlds inside the poet's mind. Still we come back, in the final stanza, to the speaker and his "love" and his room on the English Channel. The reference to Sophocles in "Dover Beach" also shows that he also cared a lot about education and classical learning. Still, dark undertone marks this as a Matthew Arnold poem at. We see that "eternal note of sadness" is used a lot in other his works (“Longing”, “Isolation. To Marqueritte” etc). And it doesn`t mean that he wasn't capable of appreciating beauty. Is reflects the general tone of sadness and loss as a major feature of a lot of Arnold's poetry and of his outlook on the modern world.
Psychoanalytical (Jung) From the point of Jungian psychoanalytical approach I will try to analyze the main character, distinguish archetypes and main symbols. The speaker himself represents a struggle between two types of his personality: 1) A soul type “the lover” 2) The self type “the sage” The sage type is dominating. Motto: The truth will set you free Goal: to use intelligence and analysis to understand the world. Biggest fear: being duped, misled. Strategy: seeking out information and knowledge; self-reflection and understanding. Weakness: can study details forever and never act. Talent: wisdom, intelligence. The Sage is also known as: thinker, philosopher, researcher.
This type is lined through the poem. We see that the speaker is quite well educated (allusion to Socrate). He associates the landscape with the real past events. He is also thinking about the sense of life and the future of the mankind. Weaker part of his personality is “the lover”: Motto: You're the only one Core desire: intimacy and experience Goal: being in a relationship with the people, work and surroundings they love. Greatest fear: being alone, a wallflower, unwanted, unloved. Weakness: outward-directed desire to please others at risk of losing own identity The Lover is also known as: The partner, friend, intimate, enthusiast, sensualist. He does not use a strict monologue; he is addressing someone beloved, and leads a kind of talk about love and human values. We can also characterize the person he addresses as his own anima – his feminine side projected as a close and dear person, a mutual friend. It is responsible for sense of love and harmony, prevents him from becoming a “sage”, and helps to get rid of complexes. The setting of the poem gives us a chance to analyze numerous individual and collective symbols. 1) Sea - it is the symbol of the collective unconscious. Calm sea at the very beginning of the poem characterizes the current state of the speaker and his self-reflection in a present society. Then the sea roars “Listen! You hear the grating roar”. It means inner aggression, fear and worries. 2) Water (waves) – symbolizes a soul being in power of darkness, a symbol of unconscious. As it becomes more rough or calms down we can speak about the changes of one`s emotions. It`s main feature is an ability to reflect. It can be a reflection of feelings, inner state or the life of the whole society. It shows to the world even those facts we are hiding behind the “persona”. Waves going high mean the catastrophe in the society. 3) Cliffs – troubles, fate, everything that limits our life and cannot be controlled or avoided. 4) Beach – a verge between the present and the past, a decision making point, a place of choice. The speaker is standing I the beach and observing, that gives us a hint that he is not ready to make a step forward all the chaos described, its rather a part of his memories. There is also a restricting factor preventing him from doing that – his anima, intentionally reminding him of love sense and helping to escape from dark thoughts. There's also a fight in this poem between light and dark, harmony and chaos. That fight doesn't just happen between powers of nature, it makes sense on the level of ideas and grand concepts. The speaker analyses the past of the human world and tries to project it into the future. Phenomenological External plan of the poem represents night scenery on the Dover beach, England. The speaker is standing on the beach and observing how the sea changes. The gleam of the moonlight shimmers across the bay. The sea is peaceful and calm. The imagery Arnold has put in our minds is all of beautiful scenery. The sea is calm tonight. The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Nothing gives us a sign of possible changes. From the very first lines the reader feels atmosphere of calmness and peace and it gives an impression that the whole poem will be quite lyrical, and he/she will be enjoying marenistic beauty. Then other lines: Upon the straits; on the French coast the light Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, In these stanzas the author connects the landscape to the concrete geographical location, and we can predict that if Arnold mentions these two countries here – he wants to underline that the scenery does really mean something to him because of it`s connection to this very geographical (and historical) place. Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! Now he is addressing to some companion. And this person is definitely close and dear to him, because he really wants to share his impressions with this one. But suddenly, there happens some change of the weather (setting) and in the speaker himself. Listen! you hear the grating roar Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return, up the high strand, Begin, and cease, and then again begin, With tremulous cadence slow, and bring The eternal note of sadness in. The sea changes to a symbol of sadness as the poem progresses. Speakers mind is set in the tone of misery. This is shown through the contrast of the actions of the moon, which "lies fair" to that of the pebbles and waves he refers to now that angrily pound the beach. He mentions that the shore brings the "eternal note of sadness in". Taking into account the two countries previously mentioned, we can build a parallel with human society. The moon – life, fate; and pebbles – people, which can`t just relax and praise what they have staying in one place. Sophocles long ago Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow Of human misery; These lines show that it is really so, the speaker refers to the classical Greek writer of tradegys, Sophocles. He is reminded of his own time and can hear the human misery that surrounds him through the sea. The Sea of Faith Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Retreating, to the breath Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear And naked shingles of the world. Last, the sea becomes a symbol of faith. The faith has died, once it was full, but now receding tide. The key word is once because it implies that he used to look at the sea in a different way (in the first stanza the sea was peaceful) than what he does now (which is as lost faith). Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, 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 Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night. In the last stanza he is speaking directly to his love. He presents the idea that he and his love must comfort and remain faithful to one another because each other is all they really have. In reality he is expressing that nothing is certain, because when there is darkness there is light and when there is sadness there is happiness. In a world barren on faith, only love lends a man some kind of support and meaning in life. Modality The poem represents a bright example of a descriptive model that is underlined by author`s subjectivity and characterized by the expression of his personal point of view. Thus the emotional and evaluative figures of speech are predominant and create not only the image of the landscape described, but also the protagonist. It is applicable to the nature`s description within the analyzed text. The peculiarity of these descriptions is connected with the enumeration of the objects` features, that`s why the nouns and classified adjectives prevail and make the poem nominative and evaluative. Description explicitly shows the viewpoint of a character. In general this abstract has axiological modal operators and at some points – epistemic, alethic and deontic. Epistemic: we find also in the sound a thought, Alethic: for the world, which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams Axiological: sweet is the night-air, lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled, naked shingles of the world, so various, so beautiful, so new, hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain Deontic: Come to the window, Listen!, Ah, love, let us be true to one another, A repetition of neither...nor in stanza 4 underlines a series of denials that are examples of axiological modality : ". . . neither joy, nor love, nor light/ Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain". All these are basic human values. If none of these do truly exist, this raises the question of what remains at all. With these lines, Arnold draws a very bleak and nihilistic view of the world he is living in. The author uses a lot of adjectives to enrich the poem's language, such as "tremulous cadence" and "eternal note of sadness” . These help to increase the general melancholic feeling of the poem. Exclamations are used at various points of the poem with quite opposite effects. In the first stanza, Arnold displays an outwardly beautiful nightly seaside scenery, when the lyrical self calls his love to the window ("Come . .. !") to share with him the serenity of the evening. First she is asked to pay attention to the visual, then to the aural impression ("Listen!" ) – these exclamations add deontic tone. The same with the fourth and final stanza which begins with a dramatic pledge by the lyrical self. He asks his love to be "true", meaning faithful, to him. ("Ah, love, let us be true /To one another!" ). For the beautiful scenery that presents itself to them "for the world, which seems/ To lie before us like a land of dreams,/ So various, so beautiful, so new" is really not what it seems to be. On the contrary,
as he accentuates with a series of denials, this world does not contain any basic human values. These have disappeared, along with the light and religion and left humanity in darkness. "We" could just refer to the lyrical self and his love, but it could also be interpreted as the lyrical self addressing humanity. The pleasant scenery turns into a "darkling plain", where only hostile, frightening sounds of fighting armies can be heard: And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night."
Verbal poetic images
Matthew Arnold expresses the sea as an archetypal symbolic pattern of setting throughout the poem in order to present the speaker’s solitude and inclination for a personal relationship. The sea represents an escape, a set of timelessness, and a home for the unconscious. Isolation centers this poem in which the speaker seeks for isolation, even despite the fact that there is a companion nearby. The sea shapes the natural setting, which produces the image of an island, together with a sense of peacefulness, isolation, and hope. The seaside is an escape from society, and a home for the speaker’s meditation, and inner hope. This meaning results in a reason that the speaker’s feels confined to his life and trapped inside from any type of relationship or love. “Dover Beach” deals with the speaker’s hope for a spiritual connection, with God and a personal relationship with a woman/man. Matthew Arnold’s account of the sea provides various meanings and attitudes for each reader and interpreted in different ways. The Sea is closely connected with another archetypical image – Faith. It relates to the religion as a basic standpoint of the society. Thus with the loss of faith and integration to the technical / scientific society people lose a part of their history and a source of moral virtues. The author widely uses stereotypical images like: sweet air, eternal sadness, sea meets the moonblanched land, the breath of the night-wind, a land of dreams; and idiotypes that underline the author`s originality and help to imagine the landscape from another prospective. Here are the examples: tremulous cadence, folds of a bright girdle, naked shingles of the world, confused alarms of struggle and flight.
Intertextuality We can assume from the title of the poem that stanza I describes the view of Dover, the English seaport near France. But stanza II shows the image of the sea does not limit itself to the English Channel but also presents the Aegaean Sea where Sophocles, the Greek poet, also saw and heard the same things
that the main character. This reflects an intertextual will of the author to show deep impression that were common for these two poets. The reference to Sophocles in line 15-18 is an intertextual reference to his third chorus in Antigone (Sophocles: 482): Fortunate is the man who has never tasted Gods vengeance! Where once the anger of heaven has struck, that house is shaken For ever: damnation rises behind each child Like a wave cresting out of the black northeast, When the long darkness under sea roars up And burst drumming death upon the windwhipped sand. In these lines he described a world of human misery. And Matthew Arnold feels that this feature still lives through all ages and keeps on affecting all of us. For Matthew Arnold, this was an eternal note of sadness. The last stanza of Dover Beach expresses the striking image of a darkling plain. The change of image seems to be very abrupt. The image contained in the last three lines of the poem can intertextually be referred to the battle of Epipolae in Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War. The way events during the battle fully corresponds with the movement of the sea in the previous stanzas. The way the sea has expressed the image of Epipolae can be illustrated as follows: The sea is calm tonight . The tide is full, the moon lies fair. These two lines projects the image of the Athenians moving onwards in full tide. Everything went on smoothly. The tide of fortune was in their favor. On the hill of Euryalus they were unobserved by the enemy`s guards. A large number of the enemy, however, managed to escape and gave the alarm to the other camps at Epipolae. The long lines of spray disturbs the smoothness of the calm sea. It reminds us that the flood is on the move. Nothing will last forever. The tide of events will change with the turning of tides. In the third stanza, the sea is turned into the "Sea of Faith", which is a metaphor for a time (probably the Middle Ages) when religion could still be experienced without the doubt that the modern (Victorian) age brought about through Darwinism, the Industrial revolution, Imperialism, a crisis in religion, etc. Arnold illustrates this by using an image of clothes . When religion was still intact, the world was dressed ("like the folds of a bright girdle furled" ). Now that this faith is gone, the world lies there stripped naked and bleak. ("the vast edges drear/ And naked shingles of the world" .