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Dover Beach


            Matthew Arnold's dramatic monologue "Dover Beach" portrays the way in which perceptions are deceptive. The use of technical qualities, symbolism, and imagery helps to support the speaker's thoughts between what is seen and what is real.
             Rhythm and meter are the most important devices in "Dover Beach". These mechanisms allow Arnold to use words as a way to portray the speaker's struggle. Figures of speech, sounds, and irony of words are also used. Line one; "The Sea is calm tonight" has a gentle rhythm that can be compared to the "ebb and flow" of the sea. With this description one can imagine a beautiful beach with water lapping upon the shore. The second line also gives the image of a calm sea. It is not until line three that the rhythm is broken. This line begins and ends with an iamb but the middle is broken up. The choppiness in the sentence is a foreshadowing of potential problems to come. In the fourth line the poem's rhythm continues to be broken up, but shortly after is recovered in line five. The rhyme scheme is: ABACD, with only the first and third lines rhyming. This lack of pattern is used to provide an image of struggle within the speaker. In the second stanza, the number of feet per measure does not project a pattern. This is supposed to create a sense of misunderstanding. The false impression of the rhythm covers the inner struggle in the speaker.
             The sounds of Arnold's poem help convey the speaker's internal quandary. "You hear the grating roar of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling", this quote gives the stanza an acoustic value. "On the French coast the light gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, glimmering and vast," portrays a visual picture of what is present at the scene. Arnold utilizes pleasing words to the ear when blissful times are present and harsh ones at time of depression and sadness. .
             The sounds of the poem do not only display the speaker's struggle but they also show the fundamental theme of light and dark.


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