What is the meaning of the last three lines in the poem "Dover Beach"?
"And we are here as on a darkling plain..."
Also, how does "Dover Bitch" by Hecht respond to this poem? Is Hecht affriming Arnold's pessimistic belief or is he making fun of it?
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The last three lines of Arnold's poem "Dover Beach",
"And we are here as on a darkling plain...swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight...where ignorant armies clash by night",
express the author's bewilderment at the state of the world, which, instead of being filled with "joy...love...and light", is more like a battleground, where confusion and destruction reign. It is the author's hope that the love he shares with the woman to whom the poem is addressed will transcend a reality where comfort and peace are lacking.
I think that in his poem "Dover Bitch", Hecht is both making fun of Arnold's pessimistic belief and affirming it as well. His crass portrayal of the object of Arnold's affections as a woman who is, unbeknownst to him, vulgar and unfaithful, is told with an earthy realism which makes Arnold's flowery, romantic notions seem ludicrous. Ironically, the effect of this portrayal affirms Arnold's pessimistic fears at the same time as it mocks them. The world is indeed not a place where high-mindedness and noble ideals prevail, and Arnold's hope for refuge in an untainted love is empty and meaningless as well.
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