What appears to be true and what actually is true are two very different things. "Dover Beach", written by Mathew Arnold uses an exquisitely calm ocean filled with tension to present a position of appearance verses reality. In the poem "Grecian Urn", author John Keats creates an illusion of mortality painted on the urn verses the immortality of true life. Nathaniel Hawthorne also uses appearance verses reality when Young Goodman Brown discovers the true evil nature of mankind in what seemed to be his good friends and fellow townsmen.
"Dover Beach" is about a beautifully calm sea, although when looking underneath the surface, it is a world full of hidden turbulence. Arnold starts the mood with the essence of tranquility and serenity. Dover Beach is described as, "calm [that night], the tide is full, the moon lies fair," and all seems right. The appearance of Dover Beach at this time is only of what the human senses can envision. Arnold looks beneath the surface of Dover Beach and unveils the true nature of the sea. When Arnold stops to really listen to the sea, "[he] only [hears] [the sea's] melancholy, long, withdrawing roar." Arnold justifies the theory that things are not always what they appear to be. Arnold announces to his lover that, "[our] [world] of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so new, hath really neither joy, nor love." Though the world may disguise its self as pure and true, it is really tainted and fraudulent.
John Keats's poem, "Ode on a Grecian Urn" compares the perfections of a painting on an urn to the imperfections of true life. The painting on the urn portrays the outer beauty, which is ultimately unobtainable, that mankind strives for. The paintings are like "a flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: What leaf- fringed legend haunts about thy shape of deities or mortals." The urn is beauty preserved while real life ages and dies, no matter how hard mankind tries mankind is not immortal like the gods of the urn.