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Assessing the Arcadia Tom Stoppard play

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2057 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Arcadia, Tom Stoppard nineteenth and twentieth century

The play takes place in nineteenth and twentieth century respectively. Nineteenth century characters are Thomasina Coverly who is thirteen years old and her tutor septimus aged 22 and are in love. Thomasine’s parents are Lord and Lady Groom. Septimus is lady grooms lover and initially had an affair with Mrs. Charter. Ezra charter is Mrs. Charter’s husband and is a poet staying in sidley park. Another character is Richard noakes an architect in landscape. Thomasine’s mother lady groom has also an affair with Lord Byron and Thomasine’s tutor septimus. Crooms butler is jallaby who stays in sidley park. Captain Brice is lady grooms brother and is in love with Mrs. Charter. Augustus Coverly is Thomasina younger brother who is a troublesome fellow. It is evident that all the characters in the play fall in love with partners living in the same circumference. The play shows extra marital love and other aspects other than sex that push people together and hence love each other.

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Twentieth century characters are Hannah Jarvis an author. She has authored a book on the wife of Bryon lady lamb. Hannah also is involved in searching past stories of sidley park. Bernard nightingale is a lecturer at Sussex University and is in love with Chloe Coverly who is young and intelligent and eighteen years old. The two can be compared with Thomasina and septimus be because it’s the love between a student and his tutor. Bernard is also interested in Hannah more than Chloe. Valentine is in love with Hannah also. He is chloes and Gus elder brother. Gus is the younger brother and is dumb and is in love with Hannah. Twentieth century characters are just like nineteenth century characters whose sexual behavior rotates in a vicious circle.

The actions occur in the same room where characters in the past used to live. Present time characters compare themselves with characters in the past and discover what happened to them. In the play relationships between different characters is shown and their sexual tendencies. At the end of the play the lives of both the past and the present characters are similar. Hannah Harvis relationship with valentine Coverly can be compared with that of Thomasina and septimus. Themes in the play are love and sex. Characters are attracted to their non spouses and sometimes you find mother and daughter falling in love with one boyfriend like in the case of Thomasina and her mother. Brothers also share the same girl friend like valentine and Gus. Humans in this play are shown as imperfect beings by tom Stoppard. People are believed to be driven by instinctual desires. Desire causes many disorders and it cannot be controlled. Great dialogues of Plato are a book that can be compared with what happens in the play by Tom Stoppard.

Thomasina and septimus relationship shows a clear definition of love as shown by Pausanias. In the book he believes that there is heavenly and common love. Common love is love that is made in order to satisfy ones sexual desires. Pausanias considers it as very bad and goes further to pass a criticism on those who love in order to have sex. Laws should be enacted that ban people from considering sex as a way of gratification. Heavenly love is good because people love others because they can achieve from them virtue and wisdom. Therefore they will receive gratification in return. According to Platos symposium, pg.123 self gratification is obtained by loving somebody for his wisdom and virtue other than sex. Thomasina wanted to know from septimus what carnal embrace is (Arcadia, act.1).Septimus was embarrassed by this question and considered it silly. Septimus wants the younger girl to concentrate on her mathematical studies. Thomasina is interested in sexuality as she grows mature. The love questions she asks septimus shows that her love for him is not only for sex but she gains wisdom and virtue by learning love terms from the elder and experienced tutor. Septimus tries to seduce the younger student. Pausanias book, Plato’s symposium supports this kind of love. People offer something good in terms of wisdom but not sexual desire. (Pg.123)

Sidley Park in twentieth century is occupied by the Coverly family; valentine, Gus and Chloe their only sister. They are Thomasine’s descendants. Valentine is a mathematician just like Thomasina and he follows her note books. Hannah Jarvis is an historian and falls in love with Bernard nightingale. She is an author and wrote a book on Mrs. Bryon lady lamb. Bernard is studying the history of Bryon and what happened to Ezra charter. Therefore the two have a similarity in the work they do. Both are proud of their work. Bernard draws immature conclusions from his researches and this makes him look very different from other characters in the play. He believes that sidley park was involved in sexual activities and literature but not science alone. This makes Hannah, valentine and Chloe to disagree with him. He is dominated by sexual desire and thinks that scientific issues should not have more weight than personalities. Bernard thinks that people should not rush for Isaac Newton (Arcadia, 2.5pg.61)

Bernard critized Hannah’s book, on Mrs. Bryon and wants to have sex with her. After this he wants Hannah to leave the city for good and tells her that she could have written a good book other than that. (Arcadia, 2.5, pg 63)

Bernard sexual desire is revealed and only wanted to attain self gratification but not wisdom and knowledge like Thomasina and septimus. Bernard’s perception of love is contrary to Socrates. At one time diatoma a woman whom Socrates met told him to love beauty in general and then finally will love a specific mind. True love according to Socrates is that which is aimed at attaining knowledge, virtue and wisdom but not that of gratification. Bernard’s mind is washed away by sexual desire and lust that makes him look different from other characters in the play. He totally contradicts Tom Stoppard work. (Symposium, pg. 143-147) He dislikes the women in the book and is not attracted for pursuit of knowledge but the pursuit of sex.

Chloe brings out sexual phrases in the book and during a mathematical formula discussion and argument with her brother valentine she thinks the thing cannot work due to sex. She says that what is happening is that people are facing others who have different perceptions of different ideas. (Arcadia, 2.7pg.74) It can be related to Eryximachus ideas who could not agree with Chloe because he suggests that love brings conflicting elements. Chloe’s argument is that the mathematical formula cannot work because of sex. Eryximachus believes that the two elements must combine in order to create love. According to him where there is order there is love and in disorder then no love. (Symposium of Plato, pg, 128)Tom Stoppard in the play has used definitions and themes in order to establish relationships between among different characters. At the party each guest has a very different definition of love. The relationships among the characters are for sexual gratification while others are driven by virtue. In this play it’s true that the nineteenth and twentieth century characters are similar in their love actions and their relationships only rotate among the close members.

Below is a summary of the acts and scenes in the play. The play Arcadia occurs in sidley park in the mansion of the family of Coverly.

sAct one, April 10, 1809.

In scene one, septimus is with his pupil Thomasina and requires her to prove Fermats theorem. At this time septimus reads the poem of charter who is a guest in sidley park. Mr. Charter is very angry because the two interrupt him and he knows that septimus was once involved in a relationship with Mrs. Charter. Septimus ironically praises Mr. Charters work in a mere flattery. The same tutor once criticized the old mans poems. Charter delighted by the praises, he promises to dedicate one of his books to Septimus. Lady groom, Mr. Noakes and Captain Brice are surprised by the scene when they enter the room and find the conversation of the trio. They discuss the changes in the classical garden located in picture square that had been commissioned to the hands of Noakes. Thomasina after they leave the room draws a new design of the garden that will bring a lot of confusion in the twentieth century.

Scene 2 in 1993

It occurs in the room that had been used by nineteenth century characters since 1809. Hannah Jarvis is on a research project in order to write a book about Lady Lamb. Bernard disrepute’s Hannah’s book and is in sidley park to enquire about Bryon. Valentine a mathematician and biologist are on the ground floor of the mansion and are studying population changes. Bernard rashly concludes that Bryon had visited sidley in 1809 and was responsible for charters death.

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Scene 3 in 1809

Thomasina is seen in a class of Latin translations and claims to have lost Alexander’s library knowledge. Septimus tells her jtha5 all that is lost will be found later. Charter enters inside and interrupts the lesson in the class. He finds septimus guilty of writing a criticism on his poems.

Scene 4 in 1993

Hannah is seen reading the mathematics book of Thomasina. She discovers that Thomasina recognized the interaction concepts. Thomasine’s theory of the irregular shapes attract valentine. Valentine explains Hannah about interaction and theory of chaos in comparison to his biological work.

Act 2 scene 5

Bernard is with Chloe, valentine, Hannah and the entire public and is rehearsing on how to declare public Bryon’s murder theory of charter. Hannah and valentine challenged him and became furious therefore attacking the subject of science and specifically valentines work. Hannah gathers certain information that shows that the hermit had belonged to septimus of the nineteenth century. Bernard flew to London to launch his talk there and attracts the attention of the press.

Scene 6 in 1809

The celebration of the duel was put on hold. Charter and his wife decide to leave for the West Indies together with Captain Brice. Charter is a botanist studying animals and is bitten by a monkey and then dies. Bryon on the other hand travelled to Greece before morning. Septimus cases a rabbit believed to be for Thomasina her student. Lady groom tells septimus to clarify two letters to her. One of them is about love and was addressed to her and other about rice pudding. Septimus had been invited into the room by the lady.

Scene 7 1813 and 1993(characters are mixed).

Chloe is seen reading newspaper reports that are related to Bernard’s theory on Bryon. Valentine here speaks with a lot of determination the same way Thomasina and septimus spoke in scene one. Valentine using a computer to study Thomasina ideas on iteration shows them to Hannah. They talk and wonder who between Thomasina and septimus was genius. Thomasina wants her teacher septimus to teach her waltz and at the same time Lady Groom enters in the house and is complaining to noakes about steam engine noise. Hannah found a note that clearly showed that charter passed away in 1810 at Martinique. Bernard’s theory on murder by Lord Bryon is disrupted. Septimus vows to teach Thomasina how to dance. Music is o at once and septimus gazes at a diagram and understands it. The diagram sounds like a waltz. Bernard flees when is found hiding in the hermits cave with Chloe. Gus who has been very silent in the play surprises Hannah by wanting to dance with him.

In the play I was greatly interested by septimus Hodge due to his character. He is intelligent, witty and full of funny. Arcadia is a good play and Tom Stoppard a respected play writer.


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