Matthew Arnold


Matthew Arnold Essay, Research Paper

Angela Stockburger

May 4, 1999

Mr. Harris AP Composition

Research Paper Period 2

Matthew Arnolds melancholy in life, religion, and love

In ?Dover Beach,? Matthew Arnold discusses his religious views, the melancholy in his life, and a new love, which he experiences by an isolated individual as he confronts the turbulent historical forces and the loss of religious faith in the modern world. Matthew Arnold?s faith in his religion is lost, and he is awaiting his lost love. He is melancholy.

The main theme in Matthew Arnold’s, ?Dover Beach,? is when an isolated individual experiences anxiety as one is confronted by the turbulent historical forces and the loss of the religious faith in the modern world. Matthew Arnold is an author who strongly voices his opinion on topics on such topics as religion, life, love, and the sadness that goes along with what is gone or lost. For example, Matthew Arnold states,

?Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! For the world, which seems

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

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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?

(Arnold, 830-831).

Matthew Arnold gives his views on life, love and the world. He explains that the world is similar to a land of dreams, and that it is something beautiful and peaceful, but in actuality, Arnold says that it is not. Arnold states that we are like the waves that crash and hit the shore, struggling and fighting for our place on this earth. He says that love is the cure for all of the struggling and fighting that takes place on earth. Love is the only thing that he can rely on right now, even though his love is not in his life. Love is Arnold’s way of escaping the harsh realities in life. He says that life is a struggle, and that are not any signs of joy, love, light, certitude, peace, nor help from pain.

Matthew Arnold had a strong belief in his religion but now it is lost. Alan Roper says, ?To combine with an economy rare in Arnold his preoccupation with a lovers? communication, the difference between epochs, the wistful delusions of moonlit scenes, the disappearance of religious certitude, the anarchy of modern life? (Roper, 178). Matthew Arnold says:

?The Sea of Faith

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth?s shore

Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl?d.

But now I only hear

It?s melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,

Retreating, to the breath

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Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear

And naked shingles of the world. (Arnold 830-831).

His Religion was strong at one point, but then he lost faith in God and in his own beliefs, and at that point was when he lost his religion. The sea of faith symbolizes the movement away from religion and anger. This is the literal sea, which means that the sea is the way that it has always been seen.

Many readers of Matthew Arnold’s ?Dover Beach,? have experienced the same eternal not of sadness at Dover Beach. Machann says, ?Arnold would probably be shocked to know how modern readers linger in his forest glade, how many have heard the eternal note of sadness at Dover Beach and taken courage from his courage, how many scholar gypsies there are among us, how many have felt the chill of the Carthosians and know ourselves better in the morning? (Machann, 94). Matthew Arnold has lead the way for courage, and he has taught people that even though there is this eternal note of sadness, that others have experienced, there is still the ability to be courageous and fight.

Matthew Arnold explains that his love is gone, and that his love comes back but in spirit. Arnold says:

?Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!

Only, from the long line of spray

Where the sea meets the moon-blanch?d 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

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The eternal note of sadness in?

(Arnold, 830-831).

Johnson states that to Matthew Arnold, love is the most important idea on this land. Johnson says, ?Arnold’s ?Dover Beach? hold that love is best, better than the pomps of the world and better than the worship of nature-as if to justify the lady?s actions? (Johnson, 3). Johnson is saying that, after interpreting ?Dover Beach,? the most important concept is love and that it is more important than the worship of nature, according to Matthew Arnold.

Kenneth Allott describes his poem as a combination of melancholy intermingled with the he sea. Allott states, ?It is the latter kind of love that the speaker in ?Dover Beach? refers. Situated in a particularized landscape and dramatic context, the speaker appeals to his beloved for loving fidelity as the one stay of humanity in a world which seems beautiful, but in reality has neither love, nor joy, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain. In this most famous of his lyrics Arnold invests two of his major poetic images, the sea moonlight, within almost unbearable melancholy. The irregular lines and rhymes of the first three stanzas give way in the concluding stanza to regularity or metre and rhyme in beautifully varied iambic pentameters summing up the human predicament? (Allott, 65). In Allots opinion, the sea is the melancholy. The sea is angry. Pointing out the irregular lines and rhymes symbolizing the unorganized corrupt sea.

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Stacy Johnson believes that there had to be feeling before this poem was written. Johnson states, ?Duty of a prophetic office pull him away from his poetic line, no doubt, but if he felt no such tension he would not be a serious Victorian poet, and he could not have written ?Dover Beach? (Johnson, 10).

Matthew Arnold wrote many poems, one being ?Dover Beach.? ?Dover Beach,? was one of Matthew Arnold?s most popular poems. In his poem, he relates melancholy with the sea, while discussing love and religion. He describes his loss of religion as being a loss of anger. He is yearning for his lost love, who he watches for always.

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