Matthew Arnold: Lizzie Rainey

In excerpts from Matthew Arnold’s “Culture and Anarchy” it is apparent, at least to me, that  he is openly upset at the industrial life that has arrived as of recent. He quite blatantly remarks that, “the pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light. He who works for sweetness and light, works to make reason and the will of God prevail. He who works for machinery, he who works for hatred, works only for confusion.” Here it is very obvious that he is supporting the fact that industry and the whole business of factories and automated craftsmanship is evil and is taking away the purity and sweetness of the beauty of life.

“Dover Beach” is following along the same lines as the previous work but really focuses more on bringing about the attention that nature is extraordinarily beautiful and that unfortunately it became less beautiful with the addition of the industry. “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.” This whole stanza just really summarizes (again, what it says to me) that the sea (also might represent out faith) was once full and glorious but has been diminished by the lack of love and light from the world.


2 thoughts on “Matthew Arnold: Lizzie Rainey

  1. I also think he does a really good job of highlighting the purity of nature compared to the dullness of the mechanical age. I didn’t even really think about the fact that he is accusing the industry of corrupting anything more than the people, but I think you are right.

  2. I agree with both comments you make here. I think that in Dover Beach, there is still a link of sadness because of the line, “The eternal note of sadness sets in”. But the fact of the matter is that his anger with curiosity moving society forward is the “problem” and he makes is clear is both a typical rant(ish) way in “Culture and Anarchy” and also in the metaphorical poem” Dover Beach”.

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