1. Explain how Matthew Arnold’s ‘Dover Beach’ is a dramatic monologue.
Ans. Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach" is a dramatic monologue because he is the sole speaker in the poem and addresses a silent audience. The effect is of one person directly addressing another, while the readers listen to it. Dramatic monologue, also called a persona poem, is a type of poetry written in the form of a speech by an individual character. A single person utters the speech that makes up the whole of the poem, in a specific situation at a critical moment. This person addresses and interacts with one or more other people. The main principle controlling the poet's choice and formulation of what the lyric speaker says is to reveal to the reader, in a way that enhances its interest, the speaker's temperament and character. Arnold wrote this poem in 1850 or 1851. It was published in 1857. This turned out to be his best poems depicting the general outlook of life. The poem is a lyric with an elegiac tone. It is considered a dramatic monologue because we can see the presence of his beloved when the poet addresses her directly. In the poem, the speaker is the mouth piece of the poet. He is presumed to be a lover standing at the window and describing the beauty of the seashore to his beloved. The lines, “Listen! you hear the grating roar” and “Ah, love, let us be true”signifies that he talks to his beloved. The action that occurs in the poem is happening in the mind of the poet. The poet compares the Sea with the faith in God. He mourns at the receding faith due to the advancement of science and technology. The sea waves are symbolic to the sad state of mind of the poet. This sadness and misery in the life of human beings existed in the past, is present right now and will continue to exist in the future. The romantic streak in the poem is because it has no tinge of the religious interference. Arnold has skillfully amalgamated both the lyrical and dramatic elements in the poem which makes it a perfect dramatic monologue.
2. How does Matthew Arnold describe the crisis of faith during the 'Victorian Era' through the poem 'Dover Beach'?
Ans. The Victorian Age was the age of fast developments, change and growth. The life of the people was greatly influenced by the Scientific and technological advancements. The Era was popularly known as the age of energy and invention. When people read the Darwin’s theory of the origin of Species, they were doubtful of the biblical view that God created Adam and Eve. The common people were full of confusion and doubts. They were stuck between the new advancements and the old myth. The decline in the faith towards God and religion started from this Victorian Era. The central theme of the poem ‘Dover Beach’ is the lack of faith. According to Matthew Arnold, the sea of faith was fast receding. He has used the metaphor of ‘Sea’ to demonstrate the loss of faith among the people of Britain during the Victorian Age.Like the sea water, the faith in God filled the hearts of people. The decreasing sea water signified the loss of faith.The poem began with the description of a natural scene, where the sea was calm. Similarly, the world was peaceful, joyful and mellifluous. The calm and quiet environment also suggested that there were no thoughts and emotions but quietness. The poet looked back at the coast and noticed that the cliffs were eroding and signified the weakening of faith. The pebbles on the shore signified the struggles, ignorance, confusion and uncertainties in the life of the people. The poet believed that people might leave the Church or religion behind because of the waves of science, but they would be drawn back to their old beliefs. In the sad state of mind, the poet was reminded of a greatdramatist, Sophocles. He had heard the same music of theAegean Sea and understood the desolation of human life.A recurrent pattern of decline and regrowth in the seawaters inspired him to dramatize various aspects of humansufferings and tragedies. Like Sophocles, the poet and hisbeloved could also feel the misery of human beings fromthe music produced bythe sea waves. This also implied that thehuman sufferings existed in the period of Sophocles andstill continued to prevail at that time of the poet and will continue to be in the future. The poet says that the world is like a battlefield at night where soldiers fire at shadows, unable to distinguish between friend and foe, between good and evil.
3. Describe the main theme of the poem ‘Dover Beach’ by Matthew Arnold.
Ans. The poem ‘Dover Beach’ is based on the central idea of the loss of faith in God and religion due to the advancements of science and technology.The Victorian Age marked the fast developments in many walks of life. Industrialisation and urbanisation changed the mindset of the common people.Darwin’s theory of evolution spread among the public. It challenged the biblical view that God had created Adam and Eve. The people were confused and stuck whether to believe the latest advancements or to cling to their old faith in God and religion. The faith of the people is compared to the sea(Dover Beach).As the sea surrounds the world, the faith in God and religion is surrounded in the hearts of people worldwide. The gradual loss of faith with the advancement of science and technology is like the sea in full tide which ebbs away in mournful music over the pebbles. These pebbles are compared to the confusions and uncertainties of the people. The receding faith leads to isolated minds, belief and disbelief among the people. The poet is pessimistic due to the deteriorating faith in God and religion. He feels that the lack of faith might fill the whole world with sadness, confusion, emptiness and hopelessness. He wishes that the world which still has beauty, variety and freshness should be full of joy, happiness and harmony. Like Sophocles, the poet understands the human sufferings that existed in the period of Sophocles, still continued to prevail at that time of the poet and will continue to be in the future. He continues that the world is like a battlefield at night where soldiers fire at shadows, unable to distinguish between friend and foe, between good and evil.
4. ‘Dover Beach’ by Matthew Arnold is rich in imagery. Discuss the literary devices used in the poem.
Ans. ‘Dover Beach’ is a lyrical poem. Its tone is melancholic which turns into an elegy. It is a dramatic monologue wherein the poet is the sole speaker and the readers are the listeners. A number of poetic devices are used in the poem to convey the loss of faith in God and religion. Simile is a literary device in which two different things of unlike nature are compared but they have something in common. The comparison is made using the words, “like” or “as.” Examples from the poem: Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. To lie before us like a land of dreams, A Metaphor in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. Throughout the poem, the sea is used as an image and a metaphor. The phrase ‘The Sea of Faith’ in the poem means the faith of the people towards God which deteriorates with the advancement of science like the tides in the sea. In the absence of faith, the life of people is full of confusion and troubles like the shore which is dry and full of pebbles. The third stanza is an extended metaphor. Anaphora is depicted by the repetition of a word or expression at the beginning of phrases or clauses used for a rhetorical and poetic effect. Examples from the poem: So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; In the poem, ‘Alliteration’ can be seen in which two or more words, having the same first consonant sound, occur close together in a series. Example from the poem: To lie before us like a land of dreams, Enjambment is a literary device in which the sentence ends without punctuation and continues to the next line, couplet or stanza without a pause. Enjambment can be seen in many lines of the poem. Example from the poem: 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. Pathetic fallacy is a literary device that refers to giving human emotions and actions to animals, plants and other parts of nature. In the poem, the endless emotions of the sea waves are compared to the sadness experienced by human beings. Example from the poem: Begin, and cease, and then again begin, With tremulous cadence slow, and bring The eternal note of sadness in. Assonance is a literary device in which the vowel sounds of words that are nearby are same and noticeable. Example from the poem: Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar
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