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Introduction:- Victorian age was an age of industrial revolution. The first railway train was introduced. Science, industry, materialism had progressed. Industries were multiplying and expending. There was more or less general prosperity and the entire society was running after materialistic life. People were just enjoying a life of luxury and material pleasure.
Cause of Melancholy in his poem:- But despite materialistic progress, Victorian people were becoming mundane and atheist. The religious faith was declining. People could not believe on anybody even on their own relatives and near and dear ones.
Religious belief was not increasing on people’s mind. People always see each other with the suspicious eyes. The materialism and scientific ideas of his age shook Arnold’s faith. He found himself wandering between two worlds one dead, and the other powerless to be born. Dover Beach expresses his religious uncertainty and his spiritual distress as well as religious uncertainty and skepticism (Skepticism). He wants that his beloved wife would not go after materialistic life and urges:-
” Ah, love let us be true to one another.
An Elegiac poet:- The distinctive quality of Arnold’s poetry is feeling of regret, sorrow, despair, resignation. Arnold defined poetry as a criticism of life. In plain language this means that poetry is the vehicle for the poet’s view of the world, his outlook on life. His philosophy, his moral teaching that poet sees like a god and suffers like man. At least, thirteen of Arnold’s poems are classed as “Elegiac” in the collected edition.
Most of his poems have the spirit of personal sufferings.
Sufferings of Victorian age:- Arnold saw that peace was difficult to find in the hurly burly of the Victorians age. He was saddened by the distracted lives, chaos of creed, commercialism and moral degradation. In his heart he was longing for a simple and lost sophisticated age. The nostalgia for the past is all his poetry.
Expression of his melancholy:- His poems are full of melancholy. This is a lament, a cry from the wounded heart of Mathew Arnold. It is really an elegy on the death of religious faith in the world. The rhythmic sound of waves does not produce music any romantic one and full of sadness. In “Dover Beach”, he remembers that the Greek dramatist, Sophocles also thought the sound of sea wave was sad and realized the human misery. The whole poem is sad but in the last stanza the poet’s melancholy makes him pessimists and he says desperately:-
“For the world………………… help for pain.”
Conclusion:- Thus we can say that Mathew Arnold is the true representative poet of Victorian age because he has shown not only a materialistic and commercial development of his age but also the unrest and disbelief of his age which was brought by the materialistic and demoralization of society.
Critical Appreciation of “Dover-Beach”
Introduction:- Poetry was not decorative and ornamental thing for Mathew Arnold. It was something higher in which he could profess his philosophy of life. He criticized modern life and bewailed (lament on) its loss of faith. He wrote so many elegies, which reveal the melancholy in his poetry. Most of his poems have an atmosphere of sadness. One of these elegies is “Dover Beach”. It was published in 1867 in New Poems. It is a representative poem of Mathew Arnold. It expresses a mood of sad reflection, which is typical of Arnold.
Background of the poem:_ Poet Mathew Arnold, immediately after his marriage with Frances Lucy Wightman, visits Dover Beach with her. Though the poet is with his newly married life partner, he does not feel happy. He does not compose any romantic poem but a poem full of laments ,on the loss of faith in religion that was the characteristic of Victorian age.
The Theme:- In the Victorian age (19 the century) people were bearing materialistic life and atheist. The religious faith was declining. people could not believe on anybody. Religious belief was declining and hold of doubt and uncertainty was increasing on peoples mind. People always see each other with the suspicious eyes. Arnold’s faith was shaken by the materialism and Scientifics ideas of his age. He found himself wandering between two worlds, one dead, and other powerless to be born. Dover Beach expresses his religious uncertainty and his spiritual distress as well as the religious uncertainty and skepticism. He wants that his beloved wife would not go after materialistic life and urges:-
“An love. Let us be true to one another.”
Its melancholy:- The poem is full of melancholy. This is a lament and cry from the wounded heart of Mathew Arnold. It is really an elegy on the death of religious faith in the world. The rhythmic sound of waves does not produce music any romantic one but dull and dramatist, Sophocles also thought the sound of sea-waves was sad and realized the human misery. The whole poem is sad but in the last stanza the poet’s melancholy makes him pessimist and he says desperately:_
“For the world……………………. help for pain.”
Its imagery:- The poem is remarkable for its imagery. The very opening lines contain word picture description the sea is calm, the side is full, the moon shines fair on the Straits of Dover, the light twinkles on the French coast, the cliff of England look large in the bay, the air of night is sweet. Then very accurately he has described the waves how they are coming on shore and going back producing music.
To create this image he has used not only senses of eye but also nose and ears. In the last of the poem , he has presented Victorian age as a battle field where soldiers of two country that means people of opposite belief, are standing just opposite to each other and that too in the dense darkness that means ignorance. As the soldier will not be to able to recognize and differentiate friend and foe, in the same way Victorian people are not able to understand who is friend and who is enemy and they are killing and wounding their own near and dear ones.
Last four lines.
Language and diction:- Arnold’s style is marked with lucidity, restrain and simple grandeur. He is the master of condensed expression. He is a Greek in the sense that he prefers simple and limpid diction. He is classical by reason of the exquisite harmony of tone, the measured fitness, the sweet reasonableness and the liquid, clearness of style. His words are capable to carry his sad thoughts but it gives a didactic suggestion. His words are not to revolt but remain calm.
Conclusion:- In such a world, where faith is absent, love can be the only consolation. Hence the poet asks his beloved to be constant in her love, he tells her that although the world looks new and beautiful like a fairyland, yet it does not have any charm. It is without happiness, love, light, certainty, peace and help. The world in the varied forms appears attractive and charming life ,a land of dreams, but in fact is possesses nothing to heighten the spirit. It is devoid of all good things that fill the world with great and real cheerfulness. The people of the world have lost the real aim of life. They are not better than soldier go on fighting in the darkness of the night. They are so confused that they don’t know why and with whom they are fighting similar is the state in which the people of the world are found. They are utterly confused in life and struggle in vain. As they don’t know the goal of life, their efforts do not take them anywhere.
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