Arcadia Essay, Research Paper
Throughout the text, Tom Stoppard+s novel Arcadia makes a series of philosophical statements regarding the theme of determinism. These statements are developed largely through images and completely different time periods, particularly those of the Romantic and Enlightenment era+s. Tom Stoppard uses the theme of determinism to show how the ideas of the Romantic era and the present day have gone in a circle. And that even though we get more and more advanced everyday, Stoppard shows us that despite our constant advancement, our basic ideas have remained unchanged. Author Tom Stoppard portrays this belief of a time cycle through the image of the apple juxtaposed with the image of the garden.
In Arcadia, Tom Stoppard uses a scientific view of determinism along with a religious view on determinism in order to allow the reader to see similarities in ideas between the Romantic era and the present day. Religious determinism in Arcadia is shown to have to do with God/fate, predestination, and the future whereas the scientific view has to do with Newton, and with biological determinism. Although both stories do use both aspects of determinism, it is usually the story from 1809 using the scientific determinism whereas in the present day, they use more of the religious view of determinism.
In the first story, a scientific view of determinism is shown through Septimus and Thomasina in order to introduce to the reader the basic ideas on determinism and science.
|No more you can, time must needs run backward,
and since it will not, we must stir our way
onward mixing as we go, disorder out of disorder
into disorder until pink is complete, unchanging and unchangeable, and we are done with it forever. This
is known as free will or self-determination…If
everything from the furthest planet to the smallest
atom of our brain acts according to Newton+s law of
motion, what becomes of free will?…God+s will.X (Stoppard, 5)
Basically, this quote is explaining Septimus+ views on determinism in a scientific view, and is using Newton as an example as well. When performing close analysis on this quote, order vs. chaos is the best dichotomy that relates to the passage. Septimus is telling Thomasina that because time can+t run backwards, we have to move onward, going from order into chaos and back into order. When Septimus starts to talk about Newton, that is where the image of the apple comes in. Perhaps when Septimus is talking about things going from disorder out of disorder into disorder, perhaps he is referring to Newton+s 2nd law because the 2nd law states basically that things get messy and go from orderly to disorderly.
In the scientific view of determinism, the image of the apple is first associated with Newton to introduce the characters opinions of Newton and his discoveries. One of Newton+s most famous discoveries takes us, |All the way back to the apple in the garden.X (Stoppard, 74) This discovery was the gravitational pull. When Newton discovered this, an apple landed on his head which made him come to a conclusion that there is a gravitational pull. So, the apple is used by Stoppard to show how Newton+s discoveries, although slightly changed, have stayed the same.
In the present, determinism is first introduced to us by Chloe in still a scientific view. |That+s what I think. The universe is deterministic all right, just like Newton said, I mean it+s trying to be, but the only thing going wrong is people fancying people who aren+t supposed to be in that part of the plan.X (Stoppard, 73) In this quote, Chloe is telling us that Newton+s ideas are still the same now in the present as they were in the past, just slightly altered, as I said before.
In the second story, determinism is most commonly portrayed in a religious view through the images of the apple and garden. |It+s wanting to know that makes us matter. Otherwise we+re going out the way we came in. That+s why you can+t believe in the afterlife, Valentine.X (Stoppard, 75) In this quote, Hannah is explaining to Valentine the reasons not to believe in an afterlife, because people are predestined. Those two aspects, predestination and afterlife are two of the three parts to religious determinism. Just before this quote, Valentine tells Hannah, |All the way back to the apple in the garden.X When we hear this quote, we are unaware if Valentine is referring to Newton+s apple (scientific determinism) or the apple from the story of Adam and Eve (religious determinism). In the story of Adam and Eve, Eve is tempted into eating the apple in the garden of Eden. Basically, this quote gives us another example of how our beliefs have pretty much stayed the same throughout this time period.
Throughout Arcadia, the image of the apple and the garden show the reader how the basic beliefs in society have remained unchanged since the early 1800+s. In this time cycle that I refer to, a lifetime will pass, and parts of a belief may change, but it is the basic idea that has remained the same.