January 5th, 2015
Timed Writing: Dover Beach
In the poem “Dover Beach,” the author Matthew Arnold uses rhetorical techniques and imagery to express the his purpose for the poem, which is to encapsulate just how lonely a person can feel during times of change.
Through times of change, as described by this poem, the world can seem very tumultuous and dark, and this is the imagery that is a large part of “Dover Beach.” The narrator begins by describing a calm night at Dover Beach, where the moon is high in the sky, and the sea is calm. This imagery provides the reader with a scene that is calm, quiet and to an extent placid. This imagery also serves as the familiar past, which the narrator is leaving in order to move onto the uncertainty of the future. This uncertain and possibly hostile future is further hinted at with the movement of the waves, which “with tremulous cadence slow, and bring the eternal note of sadness in. ” These waves, just like the changes exhibited by society at one time or another, come and go, causing much human misery, which just like the waves of change, will also eventually recede. As the poem moves from the calm tranquility of the past into the new and uncertain future, the structure of the poem so too moves as well, leaving behind the beautiful imagery of the past and embracing rhetorical strategies.
In his despair for the past, the narrator draws from the past in many ways in the form of different rhetorical strategies. One such strategy, simile, is used throughout the last half of the poem, in many places, like when describing the ocean as laying, “like the folds of a bright girdle furled.” The brightness of this girdle also