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In Matthew Arnolds poem Dover Beach a wide variety of interpretations to the poems meaning inspiration and purpose are made possible by the different aspects to which it can be viewed The aspects to which I am referring to are metaphor imagery and structure Critics have made many hypotheses on Arnolds purpose with this poem but each is made unique by the aspect through which the critic looks at the poem Such critics as Derek Furr Linda Ray Pratt C B Tinkler H E Lowry and J D Jump have all investigated possible meanings in the poem based on the different literary elements the poem possesses Before the poem itself can be addressed a brief Background of Matthew Arnolds life is necessary to understand the poem and the mood it conveys Matthew Arnold lived from 1822 through 1888 He was an English poet whose work is representative of Victorian intellectual concerns and who was the foremost literary critic of his age Arnold was born in Laleham Middlesex the son of Thomas Arnold famous headmaster of Rugby School Matthew Arnold was educated at Rugby and at Balliol College University of Oxford where in 1843 his poem Cromwell won the Newdigate prize After a period teaching the classics at Rugby Arnold served as an inspector of schools from 1851 to 1886 From 1857 to 1867 he was also professor of poetry at Oxford Arnold visited in the interests of education and journeyed twice to the United States as a lecturer in 1883 and 1886 A meditative elegiac tone is characteristic of Arnolds poetry notably Empedocles on Etna 1852 The Scholar-Gipsy 1853 Sohrab and Rustum 1853 Thyrsis 1866 Rugby Chapel 1867 Dover Beach 1867 and Westminster Abbey 1882 Despite his religious doubts Arnold wrote several pieces seeking to establish the essential truth of Christianity against conventional dogmatism He also defended culture against scientific materialism in his collection of essays Culture and Anarchy 1867-1868 Arnold believed that
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