Chaos in Arcadia

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This article aims to study the applications of chaos theory in Tom Stoppard’s major play, Arcadia. Although chaos and chaotic systems mainly belong to the sciences of physics and mathematics, the theory of chaos as a postmodern matrix can be discussed in both art and literature. Stoppard’s, and other interdisciplinary author’s, main source is James Gleick famous book “Chaos: Making a New Science”. Chaos theory is a branch of nonlinear dynamics that have an orderly disordered nature; i.e. it shows turbulence in any small scale, however its orderly pattern appears in a large scale. Chaos theory is the main essence of most of Stoppard’s plays, in that they seek to find out the hidden order behind chaos. Stoppard, as an artist, tries to understand and convey the real identity of the human being. He accompanies this very theme with the conceptions such as entropy and the second law of thermodynamics, history, love and irreversibility of time in two historical periods. Stoppard makes use of the internal paradox of this theory as a rich metaphor, and as a trajectory for his characters to gain knowledge. The play is considered as a site for growing two kinds of knowledge: scientific knowledge versus emotional knowledge. Gaining each kind of knowledge depends on whether the subject character possesses the classical tendencies or romantic nature, however in the last waltz the distinct poles of the paradox sums up, the two times interweave and science and emotion unifies as an autonomous organism.

Key words: Chaos theory, Arcadia, entropy, second law of thermodynamics, classicism, romanticism
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