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Relations Between “Dover Beach” and “1984”

The poem “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold is about relationships and romantic aspects of life in society. The poem acknowledges the weakened stature of Christianity, which perceives as unable to oppose the swelling wave of scientific discoveries poem, which portrays a crisis of faith. Humankind’s fundamental and unique place in the cosmos has been called into question by new science and intellectual investigation. Matthew Arnold, a Victorian writer, and educator are best known for his poem “Dover Beach.” According to Gottfried, “Matthew Arnold’s eminence in English literature becomes increasingly plain” (Gottfried 1). George Orwell is an English author, essayist, and critic best known for his books “Animal Farm” and “1984,” the latter of which is a deep anti-utopian work that tackles the risks of totalitarian authority. George Orwell’s novel “1984” is set in a society where political propaganda has deluded the population. Both works tell about aspects of human life, but in different keys and spheres, but together they make up a complete picture of the problems of human life. The question is whether Orwell used Arnold’s poem as inspiration for the novel.

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Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” written during the Victorian period, acknowledges and laments the loss of religious faith that occurred with discoveries in several sciences, including evolutionary biology, geology, archeology, and Bible textual analysis, to mention a few. According to Mr. More, “He defined poetry as a criticism of life under the conditions fixed for such criticism by the laws of poetic truth and poetic beauty” (Mr. More 233). The transitory figure of the beach – the fuzzy line between land and sea – echoes the poem’s feeling of turning a historical period. As a result, the poem invites the reader to ponder what has been lost as humanity has moved away from the certainty of the Christian faith.

What makes the poem even more compelling is that his romantic tendency is nearly entirely devoid of religious overtones. Instead, he refers to the sea of faith as if it were a god or a place in heaven. This faith appears to have once guided decisions and smoothed over the world’s troubles, linking everyone together in a meaningful way. It is no coincidence that the scene that inspires such contemplation is one of unspoiled nature, nearly completely devoid of human intervention. In reality, after the single indication of life – the light in France – goes out, the actual reflection starts. Arnold is expressing an inherent characteristic, a fundamental desire to be beautiful.

Enjambment is used extensively in the poem. The result is a faster-paced poem: the material comes at us quickly, gradually establishing a distinct image in our heads. It also implies that Arnold is not interested in creating a lovely image for contemplation. On the other hand, the gorgeous sight is significant since it causes worries. The poem has remained a well-loved composition over the years because it masterfully crosses the line between artistic introspection and frantic doubt.

George Orwell’s dystopian novella “1984” depicts Winston Smith, a low-ranking member of ‘the Party,’ who is irritated by the Party’s ubiquitous eyes and its menacing dictator Big Brother. Every facet of people’s lives is under the monitoring of Big Brother. It devised Throughtcrimes to prevent individuals from even considering things that are deemed rebellious; it devised the language Newspeak to abolish political resistance entirely. The Party has complete control over what individuals read, say, and do, with the danger of being sent to the feared Room 101 if they refuse. Orwell deftly addresses the issues of government surveillance, tyranny, and how a dictator can alter and control history, ideas, and lives in such a way that no one is immune. Winston Smith, the protagonist, launches a covert revolt against the Party by maintaining a secret thought journal, which is a lethal thoughtcrime. In a world where no one else appears to see, or detest, the injustice the protagonist fights, he begins a foreordained battle for freedom and justice with his sweetheart Julia. Then the most powerful, effective, and terrifying idea in “1984” is that totalitarian rule over an entire nation is achievable. If one or more dictators rule the world, the future might quickly devolve into a twisted, horrible world where everyone’s every act, word, and breath is scrutinized by an omnipotent, omnipresent authority that no one can stop or even resist without risking death. George Orwell’s novel serves as a warning to humanity. It emphasizes the significance of standing up against oppression and mass domination.

As a result, literary works have a lot in common. In terms of presentation, style, and messages sent to the listener, the poem “Dover Beach” and the novel “1984” have certain parallels. Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach” is about relationships and romantic elements of life in society. On the other hand, George Orwell’s novel “1984” is set in a society where political propaganda has deceived the public. People in this society, according to Orwell, mindlessly accept and follow politicians, ignoring their conventions and collective interests. However, the two literary works are significantly different in terms of the ideas utilized to explain society. As these features are observed in Arnold, Orwell’s work is influenced by propaganda applications such as self-interest perpetuation and human ignorance.

Both of these stories show how propaganda is used to conceal the truth and protect the interests of those in power. In his novel “1984”, George Orwell reveals the nefarious conduct of political leaders who manipulate data and facts to maintain their iron hold on the populace. Similarly, the poem “Dover Beach,” published a century before the novel, emphasizes the need for propaganda to maintain power among political leaders. The poet uses the word “light” to describe the function of enlightened groups in promoting democracy and providing hope to the people.

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Apart from having a tremendous effect on Orwell, Dover Beach has undoubtedly impacted much other literature with its universalist and humanist appeal. According to Campbell, “Matthew Arnold has generated opposing reactions for different readers, and he resists simple classification” (Campbell 1). Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach” and George Orwell’s novel are thought-provoking, showing intelligence and caution. Both these stories demonstrate how propaganda is used to hide the truth and preserve the interests of influential people. George Orwell shows the threatening behavior of political leaders who falsify data and facts to retain their iron grip on the public in his novel “1984.” The poem “Dover Beach” is considered one of the best works of modern life and lyrical criticism of society. It illustrates Arnold’s concept of life criticism. The story of “1984” may be compared to the concept of “Dover Beach,” with both resonating with the principal socio-economic evils of their respective eras. Parallels may be drawn between the 1848 Revolution’s failures and the 1917 October Revolution. As envisioned by Matthew, the intrinsic capacity for persuasion in literature is successfully used by the Party in “1984”, as dramatized by Orwell.


Campbell, Kate. Matthew Arnold. Oxford University Press, 2018.

D. A. Mr. More. Arnold’s ‘Dover Beach’ as a Criticism of Life. An International Refereed e-Journal of Literary Explorations, 2016.

Gottfried, Leon. Matthew Arnold and the Romantics. Routledge, 2016.

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