Essay on Technical Qualities, Symbolism, and Imagery of Dover Beach

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Technical Qualities, Symbolism, and Imagery of "Dover Beach"

In "Dover Beach," Matthew Arnold creates a dramatic monologue of the Victorian Era that shows how perceptions can be misleading. Arnold conveys the theme of "Dover Beach" through three essential developments: the technical qualities of the poem itself, symbolism, and imagery. The theme of illusion versus reality in "Dover Beach" reflects the speaker's awareness of the incompatibility between what is perceived and what truly is real.

The technical qualities of the poem include rhythm and meter, rhyme, figures of speech, sound, and irony of the words. The mechanics alone do not explain why illusion and reality differ, but they do help to explain how Arnold sets up
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The underlying, yet easily overlooked, lack of a pattern in the rhyme scheme reflects the speaker's inner debate. The rhyme scheme of the first stanza consists of ABACD. The first and third lines rhyme, "to-night" and light," but no other lines rhyme in the first stanza. The same instance occurs in the second stanza's rhyme scheme of BDCEFCGHG. Multiple lines do rhyme, but in no set pattern. This opposes the pattern of the iambic rhyme of the first stanza.

The second stanza attempts to regain a pattern using alternating anapests and iambs such as in line 6: Come to the/window//sweet is the/night air!, but the pattern disappears in line 7 only to reappear in line 8. Where the sea/meets the moon/-blanched sand. The pattern of iambs continues through the stanza, but the number of feet per line never project a pattern. In other words, by the use of a pattern in the rhythm and the lack of a pattern in the number of feet per line and the rhyme scheme, Arnold portrays an outwardly rhythmic and flowing poem with underlying confusion and strife. The illusion of the rhythm masks the reality of the struggle of the speaker.

The speaker's problem also appears in the sounds of the words throughout the poem. The consonant quality of the g and the r in "grating roar" (line 9) takes on an auditory quality, whereas the previous stanza displayed visual qualities. The grating and roaring pebbles produce sound while the calm sea and glimmering French coast produce a visual

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