Arcadia

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Arcadia – Tom Stoppard Essay, Research Paper Arcadia, a typically postmodern play by Tom Stoppard exemplifies this movement through use of the features of postmodernism and by it s ambiguous ending. Some of the features used in the play which demonstrate this include the shifts in time from past to present, concurrent props used sets of both eras, the characters overlapping at the end, parallel characters in both eras and textual references. Its ambiguous ending and satirical style also combine to make it a very fresh, new play. The play begins with a humorous introduction into the student-tutor relationship between Thomasina Coverly and Septimus Hodge. Stoppard immediately sets the tension between cerebral and passion themes by Thomasina s curiosity, tell me more about

sexual congress. while Septimus attempts to engage Thomasina s attention in proving Fermat s theorem. These opposites become numerous in the play as Stoppard contrasts free will and determination, science and the humanities, romantic and classical and female intuition with male dogmatism. The play, takes on a number of different meanings when looked at from different perspectives; some would claim that it is satire on academia and the world of researchers such as Bernard, others would say that was more about history and the fallacies of studying primary evidence. The play utilizes many theories concerning science and philosophies on life, and so many might say this play is about living life, an existential thought in the play as Thomasina fulfills her potential in life and burns

on the eve of her seventeenth birthday. Time is used in the play very cleverly and as we are transported back and forth, we learn information from both eras that would do them both good but they have no way of transporting that information but through the play. A good example of this is when Hannah believes that the woman standing next to Byron is Charlotte Lamb, a woman that Bernard claims was never there. When we arrive, back in the 19th century, we find Hannah s assumption to be correct, yet she has no way of knowing. We also learn information from the play that is talked about in the present century before it happens in the past, so we know what will happen next in the play. When Hannah talks of Thomasina s death, we are prepared for it as it unfolds later in the play. We

would have no way of knowing that Thomasina did die, unless it was mentioned by Hannah. The props used in one era remain in the next but without any thought for them; Hannah ignores Septimus thick quarto, lying on the table, when it could be of so much use to her. The apple on the desk also plays an important role. It conveys the sense of time, and yet one knows that it couldn t be the same apple, withered over two centuries. As the play draws to its end, the table is cluttered with many items; geometrical solids, the computer, tea mugs, Septimus books and Hannah s research papers. All the history represented on the table becomes clutter and untidies the desk. The characters have parallels in the other era, some are easy to spot such as Gus and Lord Augustus and others are rather

obscure like Hannah and Thomasina. Stoppard cleverly plays with the parallels of his characters, particularly in the last scene where the two couples are waltzing. Hannah s younger parallel Thomasina is dancing with the much older Septimus whilst Hannah herself dances with the younger Gus, both who represent the artistic side of Arcadia; Thomasina and Septimus symbolizing the scientific side. He also uses the waltz as a symbol for Arcadia: a dance filled with so much passion yet requiring the skill of complex steps and moves. In the main theories suggested of free will and determination, Stoppard proposes that while there may be patterns in the physical universe that suggest our existence has order (can be determined), human nature in it s perversity defies neat definition. That