Dover Beach—a VERY important allusion!
In this section, Montag reads Mrs. Clara Phelps a piece of Matthew Arnold’s famous poem, Dover Beach. This poem was written shortly after Matthew Arnold was married and he and his wife visited the Dover region of England in 1851. The town of Dover is closer to France than any other port city in England and the narrowest part of the English Channel.
This poem was probably written for Arnold’s new wife, Frances Lucy Wrightman. Besides being a love poem, this poem has a timeless and universal message of how individuals can find happiness together in a turbulent world.
Arnold’s message in this poem has to do with the long conflict between science and religion. The world in the mid 1800’s was changing. Scientists were discovering new thoughts and ideas that were calling into questions the validity of God and the whole Christian scheme of things. Matthew Arnold was a very religious man who was concerned with what he saw as the death of faith. This is symbolized throughout his poem.