What should be covered in a thematic analysis of  Matthew Arnold's poem "To Marguerite- Continued"?critical estimate of the themes

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A critical analysis of themes would describe and evaluate the meaning of Arnold's poem and back any ideas stated with quotes from the text. One theme in the poem includes isolation on a universal level which describes how we as humans are estranged from each other; this includes a lament that God is responsible for this situation, and the narrator's seeming sense of estrangement or distance from Marguerite.

The poem abounds in imagery of separation and isolation: we humans are on islands with "straits" (water) between us—an image that is repeated in different ways as the narrator emphasizes how humans are isolated. The narrator also plainly states, "We mortal millions live alone."

The poem also expresses the theme that we were once united. We sense this, the poet says, when we see the moonlight and the stars, feel balmy spring weather, and hear the nightingale sing. Then, we (the islands) think:

... surely once ...we were 
Parts of a single continent!  
However, as the narrator puts it in the final stanza, God "ruled" that we should be severed from the whole. This alludes to the idea of an original sin casting humans out of the intimate relationship Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden. 
 
As the poem is addressed to "Marguerite," we can assume the narrator has experienced an estrangement from Marguerite—a separation the narrator longs to overcome. 
 
The strongest theme is that of universal estrangement: we are all islands alienated from each other, longing to be joined again. This poem contradicts John Donne's famous contention written in a sermon several centuries before this poem: no man is an island, but we are all one human community. "No," says Arnold, we are not.  
thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Critically analysing the themes of Matthew Arnold's "To Marguerite -- Continued" involves investigating the intersections of his views of religion, love, and poetry. The first theme you might consider is that of unrequited love, and in particular, how for Arnold, this seems to have some sort of cosmological and religious significance, which causes it not to be merely a portrait of the poetry of "suffering with no release in action" which he condemned in his 1853 Preface. Next, you should examine how the isolation of humans, like the division of islands by the sea, reflects the atomistic nature of our fallen condition:

A God, a God their severance rul’d!
And bade betwixt their shores to be
The unplumb’d, salt, estranging sea.

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