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What literary/artisitic movement(s) did Matthew Arnold belong to in "Dover...

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anolleb | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 28, 2008 at 1:18 PM via web

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What literary/artisitic movement(s) did Matthew Arnold belong to in "Dover Beach"?

why did he choose dover beach for a title of the poem, what does it reveal about the theme?

just any knowledge.. you have will help

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sagesource | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted April 28, 2008 at 2:29 PM (Answer #1)

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Arnold was heavily influenced by Wordsworth, but his poetry is chiefly notable for its confrontation with the challenges of the modern world, particularly the collapse of religious faith. In general, he took up a rationalistic and modernistic approach set within Romantic contexts.

"Dover Beach" is both the scene of the poem and a bridge into its most important metaphor, that which sees the unquestioned verities of religion inexorably receding just as the tide draws away from the shore, leaving "the vast edges drear / and naked shingles of the world." The theme is that human beings have been thrown onto their own resources in the modern world and have nothing left to hope in or rely on but themselves. With the truths of religion no longer available, just like the light which "gleams and is gone," there can be nothing but a bleak war of all against all, "where ignorant armies clash by night." The only refuge for human beings in such a situation is to be found in human society, in mutual love and faith in each other: "let us be true / to one another". 

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