Predictibility in Arcadia

Topics: Human sexuality, Sexual intercourse, Human sexual behavior Pages: 5 (1820 words) Published: June 22, 2013
Essay on subject:

“ How far does the play depict a world in which chaos and unpredictability are caused by “The attraction Newton left out“ (sex)?”

Arcadia is a play written in 1993 by Tom Stoppard. This play is a dramatic comedy dealing with several themes: relation between past and present, science, knowledge, order/disorder and sex. We will see that a close link can be made between disorder and sex in this play.

Sex is quite a surprising theme in "Arcadia" as we know that a big part of the story takes place in 1809-1812. During the 19th century, these subjects were often avoided in literature. Tom Stoppard used the relation between present and past to develop this theme in his play. In Arcadia, sex is an irrational force, bringing characters together and splitting them apart according to its own unscientific rules. As science is the rational study of reality, we can state that sex is an unpredictable force often leading to chaos through dramatic or comic ways.

The theme of sex is related to "Newton's theory" by Valentine. This link can be explained by the definition of the theory, which says that each element that has a mass is attracted and attracts the other. In this case, the elements are the characters of the play, and the attractive force is sex. The attractive force in theory is transformed in the play in the "irrational force". As Newton found all the gravity and attraction laws possible, Valentine qualifies the sexual attraction of "left out".

In the play, sex and science are linked meaning that all human knowledge has an emotional part. This rejects any objectivity in science. In Arcadia, science is often useless against the irrationality of some events. Science is not the answer to every question anymore, and even theories like Newton's one are rejected. It means that emotions are the answer to some questions, and that love can explain something that science cannot.

The first time the theme of sex is developed is in the scene 1, at page four, when Thomasina asks Septimus the meaning of "carnal embrace". The answer of the tutor completely corresponds to the main theme: a mix between chaos and sex. When Septimus says that "Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one's arms around a side of beef", we can easily make a link between making love and “hunting meet”. Here, the chaos is present through this metaphor: men hunt to survive, and are ready to do whatever they can to reach their target. Even destroying something (can be a friendship) won’t arrest them. This humorous answer gives the reader or the audience an idea of the way serious subjects will be presented in this play.

Secondly, still in act 1, Thomasina asks a bit more about sexual congress. Septimus declares: “Carnal embrace is sexual congress, which is the insertion of the male genital organ into the female genital organ for purposes of procreation and pleasure. Fermat’s last theorem, by contrast, asserts that when x, y and z are whole numbers each raised to the power of n, the sum of the first two can never equal the third when n is greater than 2”. Septimus uses a transition through mathematics to change of subject. For him, the link between science and sex is obvious. And this idea is emphasing the theory of the author through a contrast. Septimus things that sex can be explained by science, whereas Tom Stoppard rejects any link between these two elements. Then, the point of view of the author expresses indirectly through Thomasina’a answer: “Eurghhh!”. This word has several meanings: it can either be considered as a child’s answer to so many mathematical terms, or the answer of the author who cannot understand that a link between sex and science is made by the tutor.

A bit later, page seven, Septimus says that sex is "much nicer" than love. We can feel a bit of irony in his answer, as we know that making love to Mrs. Charter lead him to a potential duel against Mr. Charter. In his reasoning, there are some good...
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