In the struggle between emotion and reason in Arcadia, Hannah Jarvis acts as the voice of reason. Hannah is the academic, feminist researcher who prides herself on thorough and well-thought research and sacrifices human contact for it. Hannah, like Thomasina's description of Queen Elizabeth, is able to separate sex from intellectual power and, in her case, push sex from view. Hannah resists carnal knowledge with effort: she doesn't like the idea of having her picture taken or submitting to a kiss, she refuses Valentine's idea of calling her his fiancee, and she scorns Gus's flirtation.
Most of all, Hannah rejects Bernard's proposal that Lord Byron would have been silly enough to kill someone out of love. It seems that Hannah did, at one point, know love but has decided to pursue better things ("I don't know a worse bargain. Available sex against not being allowed to fart in bed"). Hannah's rejection of love or knowledge of love has left her unaware of her own self. It appears as though she has deluded herself into academic sterility. Bernard tells Hannah that, if she understood herself a little better, she wouldn't have written her first book about Caroline Lamb, a romantic "waffle. When Hannah storms into Bernard's lecture and interrupts his speech about Lord Byron killing someone for love, Chloe turns psychologist for Hannah and politely asks her if she has been deeply wounded in the past. Hannah cannot, however, reject the love of the shy Gus. The mute boy and mystery of the modern Croom household is able to crack Hannah, he is able to get her to dance with her. Gus's genius qualities, much like Thomasina before him, make him not only mentally like the subject of Hannah's studies, but give him an intuitive sense of history.
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As a silent messenger and connection to the past of Sidley Park, Gus gives Hannah the apple Septimus will eat and whose leaf Thomasina will describe. Gus also dresses Augustus in Regency wear, finds the foundation for the destroyed outbuilding, reveals the identity of the Sidley Park Hermit and asks Hannah for a much needed dance and embrace. Hannah accepts Gus's invitation for unknown reasons, but possibly his relevance and help with her own research play into the mix and certainly a real need for carnal embrace. ThomasinaThomasina is the girl genius of epic proportions.
Thomasina intuitively knows the second law of thermodynamics and can refute determinism based on her ideas. Thomasina is a typical thirteen and then sixteen-year-old girl, except for the fact that she is unusually privileged and is given unusual educational opportunities. Although Lady Croom tells Thomasina that she must wed before she is overeducated, Lady Croom seems unconcerned at the intensity of her child's work until Thomasina nears the age of seventeen. Thomasina is clearly driven not only by academic zeal but also by a desire for sexual knowledge.
In the first scene, during her lesson with Septimus, Thomasina asks Septimus to tell her what a "carnal embrace" is. From the first pages of the book, Stoppard makes clear a duel purpose within Thomasina's character—to discover the rules of life and love while also working out the rules of mathematics. Thomasina's approach, including both carnal and academic knowledge, leads her to great success because she understands the principles of heat. Heat, which becomes equated with sexual knowledge, is the key to Thomasina's theory.
Specifically articulated by Chloe, Thomasina's modern day counterpart, Thomasina's theory holds that sex messes up the Newtonian Universe because it is completely random. Thomasina is ironically engulfed in the flame that she once seemed to understand better than anyone. Her tragic death, at the eve of her womanhood, drives Septimus to spend his lifetime tragically attempting to prove Thomasina's hypothesis. The final waltz that Thomasina and Septimus share at the end of play reveals a necessary urgency for sexual knowledge between all people.
While the two talk about the end of the Earth, it seems Thomasina knows her end will be near. There is an understanding between tutor and student in the conclusion of the play; Thomasina and Septimus both understand the limits of and the ultimately unfulfilling nature of academic knowledge. Septimus and Thomasina dance and embrace to revel in the mystery they will never solve. Bernard NightingaleBernard, the modern and foppish academic, reveals the danger of allowing present motivations to leap ahead of historic truths. Bernard's theory, that Lord Byron killed Mr. Chater in a lover's duel, is the product of his lust for fame and recognition. The evidence that Bernard puts together seems sketchy at best and the result of his theory and publication of his results is clear from the outset. Bernard never brings the platonic, third letter on stage, and it remains unclear how Byron got a hold of Septimus's book. Nevertheless, Bernard can't restrain himself. Undoubtedly reflecting Stoppard's own commentary on academic eagerness, Bernard ignores Hannah's objections to his theory in favor of quick fame.
Bernard has little interest in the Croom family besides an opportunity to bring him recognition. But Bernard, despite his mistakes, is essential to Hannah finding the identity of the hermit. While seducing Chloe in the library stacks, Bernard notices "something between her legs," a contemporary account of the hermit's identity that describes the hermit's turtle, Plautus. This is Bernard at his best, his sole constructive contribution into the Croom mystery. Bernard is one character who is not aided by his sexual knowledge, despite his discovery while supposedly having sex (the modern day account of the hermit).
Bernard's forthright proposal to Hannah and seduction of Chloe do no more than win him a loyal teenage fan. Bernard does, however, seem to know a bit more than Hannah because of his supposed knowledge. Bernard tells Hannah that she wouldn't have written a book about Caroline Lamb if she had known herself better. Yet, it remains unclear why Bernard didn't know himself better than to publish his results about Lord Byron before having more concrete proof of the theory. It is evident that neither academic nor canal knowledge alone will do.
Themes, Motifs, and SymbolsThemesEmotion versus IntellectThere are two sorts of knowledge in Arcadia: the knowledge of love and academic knowledge. These two types of knowledge are in constant conflict throughout the text. It is only the proposition of marriage, the intellectual justification for sex, which allows a resolution between the two forces. The theme of love vs. intellect is touched upon in the first pages of the play. Thomasina interrupts her lesson with Septimus by asking what carnal knowledge is. Sexual knowledge always acts in conflict with intellectual knowledge, and here it gets in the way of the lesson.
Thomasina also remarks on the conflict between emotion and intellect in her history lesson. Her question is prompted by Septimus himself who was found having sex with Mrs. Chater in the gazebo the day before. Thomasina describes Cleopatra as making "noodles of our sex" because Cleopatra was weakened by love. Thomasina heralds Queen Elizabeth who would not have been tempted by love to give away land or power. The great Hannah Jarvis is, like Thomasina's Queen Elizabeth, unswayed by romantic passions. She believes, as does Thomasina, that romantic inclinations would destroy or distract her from her work.
Hannah refuses warmth or emotion: she refuses a kiss, denies Bernard's propositions, laughs at Valentine's proposal, and brushes off Gus's flirtation. Nonetheless, Hannah, like Thomasina, Septimus, and Gus all waltz at the conclusion of the play. Hannah cannot refuse emotion or the bashful Gus by the end of the play and is drawn into an uncomfortable and uneasy dance. The conflict between emotion and intellect is resolved because Hannah suddenly understands that the two are inseparable. Hannah is unlike Thomasina, who unconsciously understands this, driven forcefully by the mystery of both.
The Mystery of SexSex remains the final mystery of Arcadia. Septimus, in the conclusion of the play, reveals the final sadness and emptiness of an academic life: "When we have found all the mysteries and lost all the meaning, we will be alone, on an empty shore. " Septimus implies that the mysteries of mathematics will someday be solved. As if knowing his own fate, Septimus embraces and kisses Thomasina in earnest, finally indulging in the mystery of his attraction and love. Septimus will not go to Thomasina's room, although she asks him, but he is restrained for a reason that remains unknown.
Septimus realizes the ultimately unfulfilling nature of academic progress but will only tragically experience the fulfilling nature of love for a brief moment in a waltz and kiss with Thomasina. In the same manner, Hannah Jarvis submits to a dance with Gus. She, like Septimus, has solved her mystery and now looks to Gus for fulfillment and new mysteries. The Path of KnowledgeSeptimus describes to Thomasina the path of knowledge, a humanity that drops knowledge and learning as it picks up new ideas and developments.
Septimus tells Thomasina she should not be upset at the loss of the library of Alexandria because such discoveries will be had again, in another time and possibly in another language. This story is ironic to the fate of Thomasina's own discoveries that aren't unearthed until 1993 by Valentine. Thomasina's discoveries are made again: chaos theory and thermodynamics are formal concepts by the time her primer is found and analyzed. Arcadia works as a description of humanity's own progression of knowledge. While Thomasina and Septimus make new discoveries, Hannah and Valentine work to find their discoveries.
The work of Thomasina and Septimus is lost but later found again. MotifsFireFire takes on multiple meanings in the play, but it most strongly symbolizes death and the eventual and inevitable end of the human species. Like Thomasina's diagram of heat exchange, as exemplified by Mr. Noakes's steam engine, all will eventually end. As the law of thermodynamics prescribes, we will all eventually burn up. Fire is destruction and death happening over and over again. Septimus burns Lord Byron's letter, unread, a rare and valuable piece of historical literature. Fire is also sexual, the burn that keeps bodies in motion.
Septimus observes that Mrs. Chater is in a state of "tropical humidity as would grown orchids in her drawers in January". Thomasina and Valentine wish to describe and analyze the universal laws of heat and destruction. The final scene is the greatest culmination of the fire motif. While Valentine and Hannah discuss the meaning of Thomasina's heat-exchange diagram, Thomasina holds the flame that will eventually cause her own destruction. As Thomasina and Septimus waltz, the audience is aware of Thomasina's fate. We can see the workings and progress of the heat diagram before our eyes.
SexSex persists as the anti-academic driving force in Arcadia. Academic knowledge is never separated far from carnal knowledge—academic knowledge somehow equating sexual prowess. For example, when Bernard makes his great discovery he immediately propositions Hannah, indicating how academic knowledge gives Bernard sexual confidence. Sex is also equated with heat, making it the eventual objective and need of all humans. The relationship between Thomasina's theory of heat exchange and sex is clearly articulated by Chloe who tells Valentine that Newton forgot to account for sex in his deterministic universe.
Heat, like sex, is unchangeable, persistent, and random. MathematicsMathematics and "Simple English Algebra" is the foundation ofArcadia. The mysteries of math reveal greater truths about humanity and the family as a whole. Mathematics is also a source of pride within the play. Valentine, as a chaos mathematician himself, is reluctant to share Thomasina's theory and fractal with Hannah. Thomasina's algebra and geometry lessons culminate into her genius understanding of the laws of thermodynamics and chaos theory.
The laws of thermodynamics dictate the fate of all the characters on stage, and the realization of such fate eventually conclude the play (most tragically, Thomasina's own ironic death by fire). Septimus and Thomasina, along with Gus and Hannah, succumb to the law of thermodynamics by coming together in a waltz. The couples know their mathematical, unstoppable fate and embrace each other in spite of it. SymbolsGardenThe Gardens of Sidley Park symbolize the transformation and transition between romanticism and classicism. Mr. Noakes wishes to alter the gardens into the picturesque and thoroughly romantic style and means to tear out the gazebo in favor of a hermitage and drain the lake with a newly improved steam engine.
Lady Croom accuses Mr. Noakes of reading too many novels by Radcliff, such as The Castle of Otranto (actually written by Horace Walpole, as Mr. Chater points out), and The Mysteries of Udolpho. Mr. Noakes means to transform the green, lush perfect Englishman's garden into an "eruption of gloomy forest and towering crag," Lady Croom describes it as a haunt of "hobgoblins. As Hannah describes it, the garden is a classical painting imposed on landscape or "untamed nature in the style of Salvatore Rosa … everything but vampires". The garden represents romanticism, (for Hannah) a decline from thinking to emotion, and the need for "false emotion" and "cheap thrills. " Regency ClothesThe modern day characters wear the Regency Clothes or clothes that would be worn to a fancy dress ball in Thomasina's time. Regency Clothes symbolize high society and privilege. The dress not only links the two generations and time periods, but it reveals the hay day of the English aristocratic family.
Chloe, Gus, and Valentine wear the outfits to have their pictures taken and dress for the annual dance. The dress reestablishes their power as a family and role in the community, seemingly diminished in modern times. PrimerThe Primer is the symbol of learning and academia. Thomasina is the first to use the primer, which once belonged to Septimas; however, at the conclusion of the play, Septimus has taken back his primer. Septimus's use of his the primer once again symbolizes his return to being a student; this time he is a student of Thomasina, who has surpassed his knowledge and teachings
Scene OneSummarySeptimas Hodge and Thomasina Coverly sit in the front room of an old estate in Derbyshire, England. The house is surrounded by beautiful, traditional park-like landscape, which is lush and green. Thomasina, a curious and rather impetuous girl of thirteen, is the student of Septimas, who is twenty-two. Each is working on separate problems when Thomasina asks Septimas what "carnal embrace" might be. Thomasina overheard Jellaby, a servant at the estate, telling the cook that Mrs. Chater, wife of the poet Ezra Chater, had been found in carnal embrace in the gazebo. Jellaby had heard the story from Mr. Noakes, gardener of the estate, who had actually witnessed the event. Septimas tells Thomasina that the act of "carnal embrace" is throwing ones arms around a side of beef. Thomasina, quite perceptive, tells Septimas that a gazebo is not a "meat larder" and asks if carnal embrace is kissing. Thomasina demands that Septimas tells her the truth, and so Septimas gives her the true scientific meaning: the insertion of the male genital into the female. Uncomfortable with this disclosure, Septimas quickly returns to work. Thomasina pesters Septimas to tell her more about sexual intercourse.
Jellaby, the butler, interrupts the conversation. Jellaby brings a letter to Septimas from Mr. Chater. Septimas reads the letter and tells Jellaby to tell Mr. Chater that he will have to wait until the lesson is finished. After Jellaby leaves, Thomasina asks Septimas if he thinks it is odd that when one stirs jam in his or her rice pudding into swirls in one direction, the jam will not come together again if they swirl the pudding in the opposite direction. In other words, she asks why one cannot stir things apart. Thomasina's question leads to a discussion about Newton's Law of Motion.
Thomasina believes that if one could stop every atom in motion, a person could write a formula for the future. Mr. Chater suddenly swings the door to the room open. Septimas bids Thomasina to leave the room. Chater accuses Septimas of "insulting" his wife in the gazebo. Septimas tells Chater that he is wrong and that he made love to Mrs. Chater in the gazebo the day before at Mrs. Chater's request. Chater challenges Septimas to a duel, but Septimas declines. Septimas tells Chater that he cannot shoot him because there are only two or three first rank poets living, Chater apparently one of them. Septimas distracts Mr.
Chater by complementing him on his new poem, "The Couch of Eros," and tells Chater he will write a good review of the work. Chater, flattered, forgives Septimas for his indiscretion and even offers to sign Septimas's copy of "The Couch of Eros. " Septimas only means to distract Chater. Noakes enters the room, soon followed by Lady Croom, mistress of the estate, and Captain Edward Brice. Lady Croom is very upset by Noakes's plans for the landscaping of Sidley Park. Lady Croom thinks that Noakes's plans are too modern, Sidley park is beautiful and an "Arcadia" as it is. The sound of hunting fire outside the window precedes Lady Croom's exit.
Lady Croom, in the style of a grand general, orders Noakes, Brice, and Chater to follow her. As Mr. Chater leaves, he shakes Septimas's hand in friendship. Thomasina and Septimas are again alone. Thomasina remarks that she has grown up with the sound of hunting guns and that her father's life is recorded in the game book by the game he has shot. Thomasina delivers a secret note to Septimas from Mrs. Chater. AnalysisIt has been suggested that one of Tom Stoppard's favorite ideas is "all men desire to know. " This seems particularly evident in Arcadia, a play obsessed with knowledge of many kinds.
The characters in Arcadia seek three different sorts of knowledge: mathematical knowledge, historical knowledge and sexual knowledge. The play opens with the problem (quite literally) of mathematical knowledge. Septimus has given Thomasina the challenge of finding a proof for Fermat's Last Theorem (more to keep her occupied than in hopes of her solving it). At the time the play was written Fermat's Last Theorem was, indeed, a great mathematical task. Thomasina proposes her own original solution to the theorem: Fermat's marginal note was an eternally tormenting joke to drive posterity mad.
It is ironic that in real life, shortly after the play opened, Andrew Wiles announced a proof of Fermat's theorem that has, after subsequent amendments, been accepted as correct. But the quest for mathematical knowledge persists within the play. Thomasina is the genius girl who can miraculously understand the foundations of thermodynamics and chaos theory a century before their formal definition. Thomasina's algebra lesson is interrupted by her own search for another type of knowledge. Thomasina asks Septimus what "carnal embrace" is.
Septimus's characteristically witty reply, that it is the act of throwing one's arms around a side of beef, does not deter Thomasina from her desire to know about sex. Chloe, Thomasina's modern counterpart, has less desire for formal, mathematical, or book knowledge but craves sexual knowledge. For Thomasina, the desire for sexual knowledge is a juvenile curiosity;emdash more a means to marriage and a first waltz. On the other hand, for the modern hormonal Chloe, sex is real sex; Chloe persuades Bernard to go up into the library stacks with her for what may be real sex. Until Thomasina is sixteen, she only desires the waltz and kiss.
While Thomasina asks Septimus to come to her room after they waltz in the conclusion of the book, he refuses, and she is content. Thomasina studies history with disdain and boredom. As she tells Septimus, she is bored with and hates Cleopatra. Thomasina abhors Cleopatra's weakness for men and sex, as she complains Cleopatra makes "noodles of our sex. " Thomasina has seemingly distinguished between sex that is exciting and sex that weakens women and destroys knowledge and progress. Thomasina, herself, seeks sexual knowledge and mathematical knowledge but does not sacrifice one for the other.
Historical knowledge is also sought after more urgently in the present. In scenes depicting modern-day Sidley Park, historical knowledge is rewarded by great fame and possibly sexual prowess. The modern characters value historical knowledge foremost. Bernard, of course, lusts after historical knowledge most of all, intent on receiving any and all fame it may bring. Hannah, with more reserve, also looks among the books of Sidley Park for a glimpse into the past and writes bestsellers on her findings. The intertwining past and present of Sidley Park provides commentary on the progression of knowledge or quest for knowledge in modern times.
The modern day characters are concerned with the workings and findings of the past, while Thomasina and Septimus work to make new discoveries. The quest of all of the scholars thus forms a sort of loop; what is undervalued in one generation is greatly revered in the next. The state of inquiry revolves and evolves from an interest in the future to that of the past. And, like Septimus's apt description of humanity's quest for knowledge, the modern day continues to pick up what has been lost in the past, while simultaneously finding new ideas and formulas.
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Analysis of Major Characters Hannah Jarvis. (2017, May 12). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/analysis-major-characters-hannah-jarvis/