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Eight Questions and Responses on Modernism in Literature

             What are the central concerns illustrated in the article "The Crisis of Belief"?" How does this show symbolically in the poem "Dover Beach,"" by Arnold?.
             The central concern is the despair of the modern man who loses the certainty that belief gave him, the inner conflict that this causes and the repercussions on human's stature and dignity after the groundbreaking social changes brought about by Darwin, Freud, Marx and Nietzsche. Man's inquiring mind consigned him to a hell of darkness, anxiety and degradation. The modernist answer to this "hell " has been supplanting the old beliefs with new ones more compatible with the self-knowledge gained. "Dover Beach" is a poem about such doubt and uncertainty. Arnold was a man on the brink between the old world and the new, right on the edge of the modern era, so he sees the inevitable downfall of the Victorian discourse: He places the poem on the shoreline and his character on a window "both thresholds "to signal his vision of the brink between two eras and his doubt, his loss of belief without yet being able to find something to replace it.".
             The dominant realist discourse is represented by the "Sea of Faith"," at the beginning of the poem "The tide is full, the moon lies fair"" (2); the moon was the Queen, that which controls the tide, which represents faith, meaning that during that period people still held the centripetal Victorian belief in religion and order, but, like the light that "gleams and is gone" in the first stanza, is being extinguished. Then the sea becomes violent, in a pendular and unstable ebb-flow: there's "pebbles which the waves draw back and fling and bring the eternal note of sadness in " (10, 14). Elliot sees the future instability, the backlash and the sadness of human misery that the withdrawing sea will bring. Near the end one can see how clearly Arnold sees the downfall of this discourse: the sea "round earth's shore"" (22) is compared with a girdle, which is supposed to shape and make fair, but ironically, in reality it constricts and asphyxiates.

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