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How to Read a Poem
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Dover Beach Analysis
Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay
Form and Meter
Irregular Iambic Pentameter and Complex, Variable RhymesMatthew Arnold is experimenting with some of the conventions of traditional poetry. Sure, it's not a real crazy experiment, but the freedom h...
We'll be the first to admit that we don't have some basic facts about this speaker. We don't even have a name or a gender for this dude. (For the sake of convenience in cases like this, we use the...
Seems like we're golden on this one, since the setting of the poem is in the title. This poem is set at the beach in Dover, on the southeastern coast of England. Our work here is done, right?Ah, no...
There's a fight in this poem between light and dark, harmony and chaos (kind of makes it sound like Star Wars doesn't it?). That fight doesn't just happen on the level of ideas and grand concepts t...
What's Up With the Title?
Well, to start with, the title, "Dover Beach," tells us where this poem takes place. Or maybe it tells us where this poem takes off from, since it eventually launches into other worlds of time, spa...
Serious, Lyrical Poems with a Dark OutlookMatthew Arnold was (and is) well known not just as a poet, but as a literary critic. So it stands to reason that he takes poems, and their power, Very Seri...
(4) Base CampThere are a few tricky images in this poem (like that bit about the "bright girdle" in line 23). Once you're over those, though, this should be an easy climb. Take it slow—sentence b...
Matthew Arnold was once described as the "most serious man alive." Sounds like a fun guy to grab a meal with, right? (Source.) Arnold took a lecture tour in the United States in the late 19th centu...
GThe scene is a little romantic, what with its depicting a couple together in a room on a moonlit night. But we can guarantee that there's absolutely no sex in "Dover Beach."
Literary and Philosophical ReferencesSophocles (15-20) was one of the great playwrights of ancient Greece, famous for his tragedies, including Oedipus the King and Antigone. He lived in the 5t...
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