Essay on Tom Stoppard's Arcadia

2125 Words9 Pages
Tom Stoppard parallels the Second Law of Thermodynamics with the human experience in his play Arcadia. The parallelism suggests truths about the evolution of science and human society, love and sexual relationships, and the physical world. The Second Law drives the formation of more complex molecular structures in our universe, the diffusion of energy, such as heat, and is inhibited by the initial energy required to unlock potential energies of compounds. Stoppard takes these concepts and explores human genius and the sexual interactions of people, with an eye towards universal human truth. Stoppard illustrates the diffusion of energy in comparison to human relationships by incorporating the theme of loss heavily in the play. There is…show more content…
Septimus has made a rabbit cold by killing it. This repetitive reference to the deaths of game animals implies the loss of heat and the scattering of energy in general. There are only three human deaths mentioned in the play. Of the three, one, that of the hermit Septimus, relates little to the thermodynamics theme. One of the more significant is the death of Mr. Chater, bit by a monkey in the tropics. His death is not mourned by Lady Croom, who seems to feel the loss of his life energy was the better for her, ?We must be thankful the monkey bit Mr. Chater. If it had bit Mrs. Chater the monkey would be dead and we would not be the first in the kingdom to show a dahlia.? (83). Her sarcasm is evident, but it seems that Mr. Chater?s death may have in fact led to better organization, or at least to a bonding of Captain Brice and Mrs. Chater at the expense of Mr. Chater?s life energy. Desire perhaps, being the catalyst for his death. The other significant death is Thomasina?s. Her death is not only a main plot element, but is also directly connected to thermodynamics as she dies in a fire. The reference to heat is clear. Fire is an excellent example of the energy needed to create a reaction. In this case it was the energy necessary to burn her entire room, and to consume her body, dispersing the energy of her chemical bond into heat and light radiation. The loss of Thomasina?s genius parallels the nature of chemical reactions she understood. Once lost, heat
Open Document