Matthew Arnold: Poems

Matthew Arnold's Crisis of Faith College

The Victorian Period of British Literature involved many changes in British culture; one of the defining qualities of Queen Victoria’s reign was a loss of faith in the Church. A number of social changes caused an increasing number of people to question their faith and leave organized religion, resulting in the "crises of faith" that were becoming more common among the population. English poet Matthew Arnold’s “Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse” best exemplifies the many crises of faith experienced by Englishmen during the Victorian Age through Arnold’s use of description and metaphors. “Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse” takes place in a monastery in the French Alps. Arnold’s work describes the crisis of faith he has been experiencing. Arnold does not return to the monastery to recover his lost faith in Christianity; he instead chooses to write about his struggle with any kind of faith. Throughout the poem, he makes it clear that he will not and cannot return to the Christian Church.

Upon entering the monastery, Arnold begins to reminisce about youth and his eventual crisis of faith. He recalls how “rigorous teachers seized [his] youth” (67) and indoctrinated him into the Christian faith. Arnold hears his former teachers...

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