Matthew Arnold's "The Forsaken Merman" Book Review by Writing Specialists

Matthew Arnold's "The Forsaken Merman"
This paper discusses the theme of the superiority of secular love and culture over Christianity in Matthew Arnold's poem "The Forsaken Merman".
# 92311 | 1,595 words | 3 sources | MLA | 2006 | US
Published on Feb 18, 2007 in Literature (English) , Literature (Poetry) , English (Analysis)

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This paper explains that, on the surface, the subject matter and rhyme scheme of the poem "The Forsaken Merman" by Matthew Arnold appears very similar to Pre-Raphaelite poets of the past decade, but Arnold's poem illustrates contemporary concerns about shifting moral norms. The author points out that Arnold inverts the conventional, moral storytelling function of many nursery-rhyme poems designed for children into a story about a pagan hero, who is cruelly rebuffed by a mortal Christian woman for a religion, which ultimately affords her an unfulfilling and death-driven way of existence. The paper relates that Arnold emphasizes the superstitious component of religion in the poem's reference to religion in terms of bells and books rather than of Christ and eternal life, which might be considered the higher aspects of religion.

From the Paper:

"This cruelty of the Christian woman, who spurns the truest lover of the poem, should come as little surprise to persons familiar with the poet Matthew Arnold's own system of beliefs. Matthew Arnold was a professed agnostic. But according to the Victorian scholar David DeLaura, Arnold's attitude towards religion was more complex than this word might suggest. It was not simply that Arnold did not believe, in fact he did think there was a strong value to be found in religion and supported many of his religious friends, like John Henry Newman, an Anglican covert to Catholicism."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Arnold, Matthew. "The Forsaken Merman." [28 Apr 2006] <>
  • Arnold, Matthew. The Complete Prose Works of Matthew Arnold. Edited by R. H. Super. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1960. [28 Apr 2006] Excerpted on the Victorian Web at <>
  • DeLaura, David J. Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian England-Newman, Arnold, and Pater. Houston: University of Texas Press, 1969. [28 Apr 2006] Excerpted on the Victorian Web at <>

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

Matthew Arnold's "The Forsaken Merman" (2007, February 18) Retrieved April 05, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Matthew Arnold's "The Forsaken Merman"" 18 February 2007. Web. 05 April. 2020. <>