The great poet and critic Mathew Arnold belongs to the Victorian period of English literature. He was very much influenced by the age he lived in. He was a staunch believer of religion. The religious disillusionment of his time pained him too much. His fear and anxiety in people’s loss of religious faith are expressed in his poem, “Dover Beach”. The poem mourns over the loss of religious faith in modern times. Poet, with his beloved enjoys the moonlit beach of Dover he could see the ebbing away of the sea water. It reminds the poet of the ebbing away of religious faith from the minds of religious people. The quoted lines make it clear, when he says:
“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,
He feels that he could hear the melancholy strain of waves, i.e., the reversal of religious faith. The different scientific theories of that time had a tremendous effect on religious people of that time. As he was a true believer of religion, he was very much worried about the religious deprivation among people and he strongly believed that only religion can lead man to goodness. If there is no religion there is no human life on earth. I think it difficult for me to agree with Arnold that religion is the only thing to clutch on in human life. In his poem ‘Dover beach’, Mathew Arnold contrast present and deep past. When Arnold looks out the window in to Dover beach he hears the “grating roar” of pebbles. Poet remembers and thinks of the “mournful roar” of which Sophocles mentioned earlier. The end of the poem poet explains the chaotic life. After considering poet’s ideas we can understand that Arnold follows strict religious doctrines. Through the image of night-battle at Epipole the poet compares the modern man in to ignorant armies. In some extant Arnold believes religion is end of everything. In ancient days Athenians are, unable to see, killed friend and enemy alike. Arnold go through Roman Catholic religion I think he is not ready to accept any other religion or ideology. The following limes of the poem makes clear that Arnold is a man believes in pessimism also. “Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain.” (Arnold).
Poet thinks that the existing world is like a barren land without joy, without knowledge and without love. According to the poet the modern man suffering from lack of faith and they lost their redeemer. But on the light of modern science and technology and various ideologies like Marxism, socialism and capitalism and existentialism, I can’t agree poet’s concept. Before Victorian age Shelly, the great romantic poet and Samuel Becket, the great dramatist in modern literature reveals that religion is not an inevitable factor. When we analyze the history of Roman Catholic religion we can reach the conclusion that religion is not a precious one. Corruption and fanaticism are the remaining factor in religion. Another thing is that in conclusion the poet put forward a solution for all sufferings that love to someone.Here the poet says to his lady lover, the dreadful condition of modern man. I think this is not a convincing solution for such a vital problem. Now we live the material world. It is a startling idea is that all the religion is based on emotional background of the people. Lack of religious faith never leads the people uncivilized. Mathew Arnold never advocates for the existence of god at the same time he never questioned the god.It is very clear that the poet himself is in a dilemma. When we listen the following comments it helps us to clear the point, “Historically, during the Victorian Era, the Anglican Church became what some would call a “decorated coffin”. People would go to service because it was a tradition, or a habit- one of the original reasons the Anglican church had trouble with the Catholics (as the Catholics were more prone to this, and the Anglicans supported more “liberal” ideas at the time). What Arnold sees is a dead church and a reality in which there is nothing to look forward to. Elite skills classis, Dover Beach Analysis.” (Elite Skills Classics). The given words reveal that Arnold himself fails to come back religion. He also admits the reality that people became more rationalists and they support Darwin’s Evolution theory.
I ensure my view points with the light of my own experience. At the time of releasing the novel ‘Da Vinci Code,’ Catholic believers all over the world opposed it. They conducted different programs and public meetings to give awareness to the people. In my own village also the church formed it an issue. But the church was concerned with the emotional side only. Majority of people supported, but group of people including me is of the view that we only consider the literary side of that particular work. The church tried to create it as a crucial issue. They feared the world goes to anarchism and they questioned the freedom of writing and poetic license. To conclude, it is viewed that religion is not be all and end all of everything, and there are many factors playing vital roles in one’s life.
Arnold, Mathew. The Victorian Web: Literature, history, &culture in the age of Victoria. DoverBeach. 2002. Web.
Elite Skills Classics. 2008. Web.