Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
- There was a time when faith in God was strong and comforting. This faith wrapped
itself around us, protecting us from doubt and despair, as the sea wraps itself
around the continents and islands of the world. Now, however, the sea of faith has
become a sea of doubt. Science challenges the precepts of theology and religion;
human misery makes people feel abandoned, lonely. People place their faith in
- In the third stanza, the sea is turned into the "Sea of Faith" (l.21), which is a
metaphor for a time (probably the Middle Ages) when religion could still be
experienced without the doubt that the modern (Victorian) age brought about
through Darwinism, the Industrial revolution, Imperialism, a crisis in religion, etc.)
Arnold illustrates this by using an image of clothes ('Kleidervergleich'). When
religion was still intact, the world was dressed ("like the folds of a bright girdle
furled" (l. 23)). Now that this faith is gone, the world lies there stripped naked and
bleak. ("the vast edges drear/ And naked shingles of the world"
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as one a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
- Let us at least be true to each other in our marriage, in our moral standards, in the
way we think; for the world will not be true to us. Although it presents itself to us as
a dreamland, it is a sham. It offers nothing to ease our journey through life. - The fourth and final stanza begins with a dramatic pledge by the lyrical self. He asks
his love to be "true" (l.29), meaning faithful, to him. ("Ah, love, let us be true /To one
another!" (ll. 29-30)). For the beautiful scenery that presents itself to them ("for the
world, which seems/ To lie before us like a land of dreams,/ So various, so beautiful,
so new" (ll.30-32)) is really not what it seems to be. On the contrary, as he
accentuates with a series of denials, this world does not contain any basic human
values. These have disappeared, along with the light and religion and left humanity
in darkness. "We" (l.35) could just refer to the lyrical self and his love, but it could
The Dover Bitch by Anthony Hecht
So there stood Matthew Arnold and this girl
With the cliffs of England crumbling away behind them,
And he said to her, 'Try to be true to me,
And I'll do the same for you, for things are bad
All over, etc., etc.'
Well now, I knew this girl. It's true she had read
Sophocles in a fairly good translation
And caught that bitter allusion to the sea,
But all the time he was talking she had in mind
The notion of what his whiskers would feel like
On the back of her neck. She told me later on
That after a while she got to looking out
At the lights across the channel, and really felt sad,
Thinking of all the wine and enormous beds
And blandishments in French and the perfumes.
And then she got really angry. To have been brought
All the way down from London, and then be addressed
As a sort of mournful cosmic last resort
Is really tough on a girl, and she was pretty
Anyway, she watched him pace the room
And finger his watch-chain and seem to sweat a bit,
And then she said one or two unprintable things.
But you mustn't judge her by that. What I mean to say is,
She's really all right. I still see her once in a while
And she always treats me right. We have a drink
And I give her a good time, and perhaps it's a year
Before I see her again, but there she is,
Running to fat, but dependable as they come.
And sometimes I bring her a bottle of Nuit d' Amour. The Dover Beach vs. the Dover Bitch
It seems too obvious a notion that “The Dover Bitch” by Anthony Hecht served the purpose
of mocking the idea inspired in “Dover Beach” written by Matthew Arnold. But that's
exactly as it appears. Dover Beach serves to present the idea that in the midst of societal
downfalls, religious contradictions, and world hypocrisy, all that we have to hold onto and
have faith in is humanity’s love or lover’s love. Hecht, as do I, seems to believe otherwise –
that a lover isn’t always faithful especially in the neediest of times. And of course, as we see
throughout “The Dover Bitch,” that is exactly the course of events. Hecht illustrates this
through a series of comical and mildly satirical lines throughout his poem.
Now, Dover Beach presents the story of a man and his lover, possibly a wife or girlfriend,
who reside in location somewhere along Dover Beach between England and France. The
two countries appear to be in the midst of war. And while the sight of the Dover waves at
first appear comforting, the speaker soon takes on an epiphanic tone. He realizes that while
the sight may be beautiful, not everything that glitters is gold. In fact, aforementioned,
England and France are two nations engaged in war. The speaker then takes into account
feigns of a different sea he also once perceived a beautiful truth – that of religion. The “Sea
of Faith,” as he called it, once “lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled,” implying that
religion was fitted to propriety and present in abundance in society. But now religion has
left her faithful humanity to rot. And now all that man has to believe is in himself. It is this
factor that leads the speaker to believe that humanity can have faith only in itself. And this
is also the point that Arnold wants to get across.
But Hecht assumes a different perspective – that even man cannot be our idol of faith. In
“The Dover Bitch” Hecht says that while Matthew Arnold (as he refers to the speaker of
Dover Beach) is lamenting to his lover, she is preoccupied with the audacity of Arnold’s
designating her as a “sort of mournful cosmic last resort.” She considers intimacy with
Arnold in her thoughts and is jealous the French living in luxury just miles away. The
audience can assume that Hecht gave the poem the title “Dover Bitch” as the woman pays
little attention to the Arnold’s lament. It seems, to, that Hecht, or the speaker in Hecht’s
poem, is “the other man”; perhaps he is engaged in an affair with the woman. He claims to
know her and their story at Dover Beach. He says that “[they] have a drink and [he] give[s]
her a good time, and perhaps it’s a year before [he will] see her again, but there she is.” He
says that he would sometimes present her with perfume of the French variety. The idea
plays into the satire of the poem and helps bring the point across.
The speaker of Arnold’s poem is naïve to the fact that his lover is unfaithful, a sort of
twisted irony. He entreats that she be true to him in all things. Ironically, she is not. He
seems to feel that genuine love must be the only bondage for the two and with this idea he
had lost faith in all but humanity. This is where the speaker of Hecht’s poem comes in to
testify the contrary. Although brimming with mocking hilarity, “The Dover Bitch” offers a
serious truth. In a time of a low morale and pessimistic outlook, we might cling to an idea
that is in truth a lie. And with humanity as our last resort for faithfulness, something must
be very wrong. Waiting for Godot
1. When and Where does the play take place
- A country road, nearby the tree in the evening
2. Where did Estragon spend the night? What happened to him there?
- He spent his night in the ditch and people beat him
3. What method of suicide does Vladimir suggest? Why would not it work?
- They thought of hanging from the tree, but it would not work because the branch of
the tree might fall down and only one might survive
- Pozzo is on the way to the market to sell his slave, Lucky
- Vladimir’s name is Didi and Mister Albert
- The Boy works for Godot. His job is to look after the goats. Godot beats his brother.
The boy’s brother ‘minds the sheep.’ The boy sleeps in the loft
- In Act II, Estragon remembers a ‘lunatic who kicked the shins off me’ and he also
remember the person who gave him the bone (but not their names)
- They both talk about Macon Country.
- Estragon says that he has ‘puked his puke here in the Cackon Country’
- Currency is in Francs
- In the Act II, the boy did not see Pozzo and Lucky. The boy’s brother is sick.
- Godot has a white beard
- Vladimir wonders why one v