Arcadia by Tom Stoppard Essay

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Arcadia by Tom Stoppard Some critics have suggested that the dazzling intellectual display in Stoppard’s plays comes at the expense of genuine emotional engagement. We are amused, intrigued, even educated but we do not feel any real sympathy for his characters. How far do you find this true of Arcadia? The first thing we notice about this play is its intellectual brilliance. The characters are amusing and we are interested in how they relate to each other. As the play goes on, however, we do not find it easy to care about most of Stoppard’s characters. In order to assess whether the critics are making a fair judgement of the play, it is necessary to explore in more depth how a writer creates sympathy for his characters and…show more content…
Creating a vulnerable character is one technique, which Stoppard has used in a limited way with Thomasina. Two other major techniques are: making the audience identify with the character, and showing the characters relating to one another in a way that makes us care about them. Many characters in this play are ridiculous or unpleasant. For example, Bernard seems self-deluded and arrogant. His theory that Lord Byron killed Mr. Chater in a lover's duel is clearly the product of his desire for fame and recognition. Yet the audience can see right away that the evidence he puts together is sketchy at best and that his theory and results lack substance academically. Bernard, however, demands recognition of his achievement, saying ‘no credit for probably the most sensational literary discovery of the century’. He is foolish because he has not proved his theory to be correct. He is also rude and insensitive, calling Hannah a ‘dickhead’. Bernard’s desire for fame provides dramatic interest in the play, as it causes chaos between the modern day academics, but it is not likely to make the audience identify with him. We are pleased when we see his efforts come to nothing, as he is proved wrong by Hannah Jarvis. Bernard is an amusing character but not a likeable one, and we do not care what happens to him on a personal level. In fact, we have a sense of satisfaction when we see him fail. Another character that does
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