Analyzing "Dover Beach" and its Connection to Fahrenheit 451

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SWBAT cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text by comparing Dover Beach to Fahrenheit 451.

Big Idea

Why does Montag read "Dover Beach" to Mildred and her friends?

Getting Started

20 minutes

At the beginning of class, we will take some time to share the homework (SL.9-10.1). Students were asked to select a quote from their reading that stands out to them and write a paragraph explaining their choice. Here's an example.


I like to give students a chance to share these paragraphs because it gives them a chance to demonstrate their understanding aloud, and it's an appropriate transition into today's activity.

Dover Beach

30 minutes

In the section of reading we read last, Montag sat down with Mildred's friends, turned off the televisions, and tried to talk to them and read with them. He opened a book and read the last two stanzas of "Dover Beach," a poem by Matthew Arnold. Today we will read the poem in its entirety, annotate it, and make connections between it and Fahrenheit 451. Take a look at my preparation for class. We will read stanza by stanza, working to understand each before reading the next (RL.9-10.1). Then we will discuss it in its entirety. Here is one student's annotations.


The hardest part of this poem will be determining what the speaker is saying about the Sea of Faith, something that Montag is struggling with, as well. We will discuss this phrase, among others (RL.9-10.4). The speaker thinks that hope in the world is at a low point, and thus he and his new bride need to depend upon each other. Montag is trying to have that kind of relationship with his wife, but she is incapable of supporting him. Ultimately, we all need someone to give us hope (RL.9-10.2).

Wrapping Up

10 minutes

In the last few minutes of class, I will ask why Montag reads this poem? I'm really asking why Bradbury chose this poem of all the poems in all the world. What can we learn about Montag and his situation by reading "Dover Beach?" I will ask that students reference specific lines from the poem and the text in their responses (RL.9-10.1). They will spend a few minutes writing and then will we discuss (W.9-10.10 and SL.9-10.1).


This is the more important part of the lesson. This poem helps us understand why Mrs. Phelps cries just listening to it and why Montag acts so bravely in the next section.