"Dover Beach" was written when England was the most powerful and industrially sophisticated nation in the world. How does the poem comment on this time in English history?
The poem doesn't directly address Great Britain's position in the world, but it does suggest, albeit obliquely, its eventual decline. At the time when Arnold wrote "Dover Beach", Britain was indeed the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world, with a vast empire stretching across almost a quarter of the globe. As well as being politically and economically strong, Britain had a thriving cultural life underpinned by a righteous Protestantism to which most Britons adhered without question.
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