"Dover Beach" by Arnold: Irony, Images, and Illusions


In the poem "Dover Beach" by: Matthew Arnold there is a lot of irony,
appeal to the auditory and visual sense, and illusions. The tone in this poem is
very sad and dismal, but he shows us how to keep faith and hope in spite of
that and how important being honest, true, and faithful to one another, really
is. Throughout this poem , Arnold mentions all of these traits and ties them all
together.
The irony in this poem is the main plot of the poem. A man has taken a
woman to a beautiful beach in France. There they look over the cliffs at the
beautiful ocean, the moon is full and bright, and the night-air is calm and
peaceful. She thinks that she is going to this romantic place to be wooed by
this man. Instead he turns to her and talks to her about Sophocles. She, not
understanding what exactly is going on, later realizes that he was getting to
the point of having each other and always being there for one another.
The poet uses visual and auditory images to mainly help the romantic,
fantasy-like place. “The sea is calm, the tide is full” and “Of pebbles which
the waves draw back, and fling,” is an example of images that appeal to the
visual sense. While “ Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land” and “With
tremulous cadence slow, and bring...” uses an auditory sense. “Come to the
window, sweet is the night air,” can apply to both senses. Sweet can mean
angelic or precious to qualify to be an visual image, or it can mean almost like
a melodious tune.
Illusions are used in this poem as deception for the girl that the man
is trying to hold a non-romantic conversation with. A theory is portrayed in
this poem by Plato, the world is an illusion. In many case this that falls true.
In the first stanza of the poem , the surrounds of the two people is discussed.
Words like calm, tranquil, sweet, and eternal, are used which seem to foreshadow
a lovely romantic evening. As the poem continues on, the evening is spent
talking about anything but love. The final topic of discussion goes much deeper
than just love. They end up talking about how the world is sometimes so
unpredictable and dark. But they have to both rise above that and always be
true and faithful to one another.
"Dover Beach," by Matthew Arnold, is a love poem, but is it mostly about
something deeper than love. He uses language that appeals to the senses, visual
and auditory, it is overflowing with irony, and incredible amounts of illusion.
But he still keeps that glimmer of hope in the back of his mind. He ties all of
this together to write a poem about faithfulness and being true to each other.
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Category: English