Dover Beach Questions and Answers
by Matthew Arnold

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How did Matthew Arnold show conflict between religion and science in the poem "Dover Beach"?

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This poem plays off the mind’s need to assign meaning to everything it sees.

The speaker in the poem is describing a beach in the evening and reflecting on the way the water moves between sea and land. The waves bring in an “eternal note of sadness” (line 14) with each break upon the shore. In the next stanza, the speaker tells us that Sophocles long ago knew the “turbid ebb and flow of human misery” (lines 17–18) and that we in the present can also know this misery by a “distant northern sea” (line 20). In the...

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