Dover Beach Questions and Answers
by Matthew Arnold

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How does Matthew Arnold describe sounds and make use of sound devices throughout "Dover Beach" to reinforce his message?

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Matthew Arnold uses sound in two ways in "Dover Beach." The first is use of sound-related figures of speech, such as alliteration, assonance, and onomatopoeia. The second is his description of the sound of the waves.

In the first stanza we have a sequence of sounds that give the impression of the eternal cycle of the waves, with the tide ebbing and rising day after day. We see this effect in the first stanza in the word sequence: " ...grating roar ...waves draw ... cadence slow."

Next, Arnold also has extensive descriptions of the sounds of the waves and the pebbles on the shore in the poem. The terms in which the sound is described create meaning through a form of personification , or attribution of human qualities of emotion to inanimate objects. The sound of the waves is a "grating roar" and the waves "fling" pebbles, both impressing upon us the strength of the tides. However, despite this power, the sound is also a "tremulous cadence," which suggests perhaps the hymns and chanting of a...

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