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Dover Beach

Dover Beach

by Matthew Arnold

Darkling Plain

Symbol Analysis

This is the imaginary landscape where the great final simile of the poem comes to its catastrophic end. Just think about how far we've come in such a short poem, how far we are from the pleasure and calm of the beginning. We think there's something totally spine-chilling about the image of this pitch-dark battlefield.

  • Line 35: The image of the "darkling plain" opens up the epic simile (notice how he says "as on a darkling plain") that ends the poem. The basic idea here is that the speaker is comparing human existence to a dark battlefield, where friends and enemies clash together and fight each other in total confusion.

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