Here, we have attempted to analyze the tone of one of the most important works of Matthew Arnold. Matthew Arnold was an English poet and cultural critic who considered poetry to be a “Criticism of Life”.The tone of “Dover Beach” is predominantly melancholic and to a certain extent even tragic.
The predominant mood of despair and gloom pervades throughout the poem. Although the poem begins with an enthralling image of the tranquil sea, Arnold doesn’t fail to observe and evoke the “eternal note of sadness” in human life caused by the waning faith in God and religion. Arnold pictures the “turbid ebb and flow/ Of human misery” and compares his vision to that of Sophocles who observed the misery and suffering in human life. This allusion introduces the key note of a hopeless world taken over by the ravages of war. The sea is compared to faith. Just like the retreating sea, the spiritual and religious faith of human beings is receding. Arnold anticipates a collapse of morals, harmony, and peace in a society that has stopped believing. This thought is indicated throughout the poem and is enhanced by the sorrowful expression ‘Ah’ towards the end. In this mood of the fearful anticipation, the poet visualizes the world as a dark battlefield where everyone is fighting on “confused alarms”, leaving no place for hope and love.
The auditory images like “ grating roar”, “tremulous cadence” add to the sad, desperate and hopeless image of the world. They represent the desperate screams of people suffering from pain and misery and a desire to escape. Adding to the mood of lamentation, regret, and sorrow, the poem ends on a frightening note that is in sharp contrast to the harmonious mood created in the beginning of the poem. However, this gloomy mood persisting throughout the poem is made lighter as the poem seeks love and comfort to survive in this cruel world. Hope you enjoyed going through the Dover Beach tone. Do keep visiting Beamingnotes Tone for more updates.
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