Arcadia is a 1993 play by Tom Stoppard which was concerned with the relationship of the past and present, certainty and uncertainty, order, and disorder. Gobert (2015) says it has been named as one of the best science-related works written by the royal institution of Great Britain in 2006. The play is divided into 7 parts. The genre of Arcadia is somewhere between tragedy and comedy as it involves some elements of classical tragedy, the nobility of the characters and the foreknowledge of Thomasine’s death, how characters interpret and interact with each other with their epigrammatic dialogues.
The play of Arcadia moves back and forth by the actors across centuries with a view to find the truth in the relationships, love versus intellect, math, science, nature, and the universe all against the charming British empire. The time is split in the story as the present day and the early 19th century (Guaspari, 1996). Arcadia tries to explore the nature of evidence and what is true in the present context of ideas about history, maths, and physics. It tries to show that the clues left by the past people can be analyzed and in which ways they are interpreted by the people, both by the layman and the experts. Stoppard had himself been inspired by the readings of James Gleick’s 1987 play Chaos: making a new science and which was about something new - about mathematics (Fleming, 2013). In addition to chaos, the play entertains a wide array of subjects which included computer algorithms, thermodynamics, determinism, fractals, landscape design, romanticism, classicism, modern academia, 18th-century periodicals, modern academics, love, and death, etc. These topics were discussed in a very concrete way in the play and their more abstract form has been described into epistemology and organs of lust and madness.
The story flashes back and forth because of the probable nature of the play that the themes are presented in the form of dichotomies in which the most important was chaos and order. The play's character and the story are well coped with and they move from a settled social pored towards the final scene of the platy where the social order collapses in the separation of two time periods, collapses, relationships collapsed and the characters are separated or died (Wheatley, 2004). The play depicts that despite that chaos, an order can still be found. It laid stress on the valentine saying that in an ocean of ashes islands of odder and patterns come out of nothing. The play's theme went increasingly disordered and chaotic and the time period overlaps one another just to reach on to the final idea of what exactly is the nature of science and the truth behind order and disorder because the characters continuously try to find out the order of the world they perceive when it is continuously overturned and overlaped (Guaspari, 1996).
In 1809, Thomasine, the daughter, a teenager studying mathematics, nature, and physics which is ahead of her time, had a tutor Septum’s Hodge who is a friend to Lord Byron which has been described as a strange and dangerous character. Despite being one of the main characters, he never appears (Gobert, 2015). The center stage table that collects support from both time periods is a metaphor for the chaos and order duo. At the end of the play, the table accumulates a variety of items or objects in such a disorder that if one would see them without seeing the play; it would look like a complete disordered table. However, if one sees the play, one would gain complete knowledge of the objects of items and the hidden order behind them will also be understood.
In Arcadia, the writer presents his audience with high and complex yet fundamental mathematical and scientific concepts differently interpreted and seen by people and experts of different time frames. Thus chaos is the main theory of the play and it is clear that it depicts the chaos of the past and present by depicting the past and present frequently. This play is so complex in presenting the chaos that the playbill presents a character map which is like a genealogical diagram that finds out who is who in the series of linked boxes. Arcadia uses flashbacks so richly that instead of referring to the dramatic structure one could easily use the term architecture for this flashing back and forth into the times. It has shown the power of the play to fuse ideas with concepts and characters.
John Fleming, “It’s wanting to know that makes us matter”: Epistemological and Dramatic Issues in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia , Miranda [Online], 8 | 2013, Online since 14 November 2013, connection on 27 October 2020.Gobert, R (2015). The field of modern drama, or arcadia. Modern Drama 58(3). 285-301.
Gobert, R (2015). The field of modern drama, or arcadia. Modern Drama 58(3). 285-301
Guaspari. (1996). Stoppard's arcadia. The Antioch Review
Wheatley, A. (2004). Aesthetic consolation and the genius of the place in stoppard's "arcadia". Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal 37 (3). 171-184.
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