Theme: Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold portrays the theme of human misery being brought about because of the changing of the world.
Thesis: That the changing world constitutes human misery is made apparent to the reader through Matthew Arnold’s use of diction and imagery.
Paragraph: “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold depicts human misery brought about by the changing world through by its main use of sea, land and sky imagery. The author observes the sea being calm “tonight” while “tide is full” (line 2), which happens only whilst the “moon lies fair” (line 2). The question that the sea will be calm tomorrow or next month is uncertain because the sea’s harmony depends on the irregular tide, which is reliant still further or the altering pull of
Matthew Arnold relates the changes of the world through the dark, unpredictable sea that ultimately changes all things to make the world dark and variable, thus bringing to the world perplexity and struggle. And with the flinging, grating, roaring, and spraying of pebbles against water, the change seems to be rebelled by whom against and thus redundant. Since the light is being haggard towards the incontrovertible cliffs rather than the incoherent sea, it also depicts a light and dark imagery where the reader is inclined to prefer the secure, illuminated cliffs while scorning the shadowy, mysterious, and unpredictable sea. The luminosity cannot be unswerving if it is part of the incoherent sea. The sea, depicted as unruffled and full is now flinging, grating and roaring because it is bringing change, therefore the approach of the author towards change is negative. The world is noted by the author as a "land of dreams" (line 31), and yet in truth it is a "darkling plain" (line 35), a place that is sinister, mysterious and therefore is tentative and unbalanced. These images construed together illustrate an image of tumultuous interruption in the natural array of things, which also inexorably changes things. Yet while light on the sea appears and disappears, it stays incontrovertible where the "cliffs of England stand" (line 4) and constantly illuminates the cliffs to make them seem relentlessly "glimmering and vast" (line 4). "On the French coast" (line 3) "where the sea meets the land, the light gleams and is gone" because the light is harbored by the sea. The waves "begin and cease, and then again begin, with tremendous cadence slow" (lines 12-13) during an exasperating battle for change that progresses in a slow, vacillating rhythm that seems slow and downhearted compared to the fervent beginning of the battle. The intermittent changes do not materialize as if they bring happiness, only a monotonous reiteration of the flinging, grating, roaring and spraying. To further disregard the part of the world that changes, the author includes an image of "pebbles which the waves draw back and fling" (line 10) repetitively as "you hear the grating roar" (line 9) and see the "long line of spray" (line 7). Light and dark imagery is revealed to indicate the light and love in a "land of dreams" that would be singular when put into a place where light becomes dark and love and joy becomes bewilderment and struggle is archetypal.