The audience is immediately immersed into the world of Arcadia through
the characters Septimus Hodge and Thomasina Croom.
Characters in Arcadia . The two characters are discussing the meaning of carnal
embrace, which proves to become a significant topic. Thomasina has overheard
that Mrs. Chater was found in carnal embrace with someone in the gazebo.
Septimus, as her tutor, tries to shield the truth from her and tells her
that carnal embrace has to do with meat. However, Thomasina soon discovers
that carnal embrace is really "sexual congress." Furthermore, the audience
realizes that Septimus is the person that is caught in "carnal embrace"
with Mrs. Chater.
Characters in Arcadia . She is intensely curious about hearing further information,
but Septimus skillfully attempts to divert her concentration to the application
of Fermat's Last Theorm. Fermat's
Last Theorem (and proof) . While Septimus is giving Thomasina her lesson,
they are interrupted by Jellaby,
Characters in Arcadia . who has a message from Mr. Chater. Minutes
later, Mr. Chater Characters
in Arcadia. enters into the scene furious because he believes that
Septimus insulted his wife by denying her attractiveness. The quarrel takes
an unexpected twist because Septimus diverts Mr. Chater's attention to
discussing his new book, "The Couch of Eros." Septimus heavily flatters
Chater and Mr. Chater ends up writing an important inscription in Septimus's
copy of the book. This inscription aids in future developments of the play.
The two men are interrupted by the entrance of Lady Croom, Brice and Noakes
Characters in Arcadia. into the room. The entrance is very comical
because Lady Croom is overheard by Septimus and Mr. Chater gossiping about
the recent events in the gazebo. Once Lady Croom has been established into
the scene she begins to discuss plans for her garden with Noakes. Her curiosity
about his plans becomes apparent because what was once elegant beauty and
refined English gardens is now ruins and towering forests. The first reference
to the title Arcadia is made. "Et in Arcadia ego," properly defined means
"Even in Arcadia, there am I." Virgil's
Pastoral Poems. Lady Croom's fear that her beautiful garden representing
Arcadia might be lost with Noake's new plans. The curtain comes down with
the popping of distant gunshots in the hunting fields and the foreshadowing
of new characters to come.
Analysis Questions for Scene 1.
A Short Selection from Scene 1.
The second scene introduces the characters Hannah Jarvis, Chloe Coverly
and Bernard Nightingale. Characters
in Arcadia. In addition, the play also changes time periods and the
characters are now in the present time, instead of the 1800's. It is vital
to note that everything remains the same including the setting and props.
For example, the theodolite and Thomasina's practice books from the first
scene are still situated on the table. Bernard is visiting Sidley Park
because he is researching the mystery surrounding the supposed death of
the character Mr. Chater from the 19th century and he wishes to speak with
Hannah, who is also doing research on the garden and specifically the hermitage
located in Sidley Park. Chloe welcomes Bernard and goes in search of finding
Hannah for him. While Bernard is waiting he encounters Valentine who is
looking for the commode. His search becomes extremely confusing because
Bernard believes Valentine is looking for the commode, as in a toilet.
Whereas, Valentine is actually searching for the cabinet with the game
books in it. This dialogue demonstrates the overall confusion between characters
that occurs throughout the majority of the play. Bernard is extremely interested
in establishing a connection with Hannah Jarvis and her research because
her discoveries will aid in his process of uncovering the truth. Through
Hannah and Bernard's conversation, we gain some insight and understanding
about other characters. Valentine, Gus and Lady Croom and Noakes are described
in further detail. Eventually, Hannah divulges her findings about the events
at Sidley Park during the 1800's. Hannah has discovered that Septimus's
pupil was the Croom's daughter. However, there is still confusion surrounding
the hermit . When the hermitage was opened after the death of the hermit,
piles of paper were discovered. This finding was important because it demonstrated
that the hermit was possibly mentally and emotionally frustrated. In essence,
he was a "genius in chaos." This scene is basically a discussion between
and Hannah and Bernard where they try to piece the various information
together in hopes of aiding both their research topics.
Analysis Questions for Scene 2.
Septimus, Thomasina and Jellaby are all situated in the schoolroom.
The copy of "The Couch of Eros" is placed on the table. Once again demonstrating
the overlap between periods and characters. Thomasina is practicing her
Latin with an attitude of boredom. Thomasina becomes angry with Septimus
because he begins to outsmart her with his Latin abilities. As a result,
she brings up the possibility that her mother, Lady Croom, is interested
in Lord Byron. Characters
in Arcadia. This information apparently upsets Septimus because he
makes grand attempts to change the conversation topic. The audience is
introduced to Thomasina's math revelations for the first time in the play.
Basically, it is suggested by both characters that nature is possibly written
in numbers. The conversation becomes too controversial for Septimus and
he tries to revert back to the Latin lesson. at the mention of her lesson,
Thomasina becomes upset about the prospect of great authors, works, etc.
becoming lost in time. Septimus reassures her by stating that he believes
that these things are never extinct. They eventually reveal themselves.
They might not be in the same form, language or initial state but they
consist of the initial concept. Thomasina leaves the room in a mad fury
and Captain Brice Characters
in Arcadia. and Mr. Chater enter the room. They have come to discuss
Mrs. Chater and her relationship with Septimus. Mr. Chater is extremely
angry at the idea that Septimus has insulted and emotionally injured his
wife. Lady Croom disrupts the confrontation with her entrance. Lady Croom
proclaims that she will not let Lord Byron leave Sidley Park and it is
Septimus' job to keep him on the grounds. Lady Croom exits the room as
disruptly as when she came and Septimus and Brice finish their conversation.
The two men agree to have duel to end the argument.
Analysis Questions for Scene 3.
In this scene we re-enter into the present day. Hannah and Valentine
have discovered Thomasina's math lesson booklet. Valentine demonstrates
his obvious amazement at the problems that Thomasina had been attempting.
He realizes that she had been creating iterated algorithms. Specifically,
every time she works out a value for y, she then uses that answer as her
next x value and continues the pattern. The reason why Valentine is so
impressed by her logic was because it was so revolutionary for her period.
After all, this equation had only been around for 20 years previous to
Valentine. The world had been doing the same type of math for thousands
of years before Thomasina and for nearly a century after. However, in the
midst of everything, Thomasina was creating the new patterns. The audience
learns that Valentine is using the same ideology to study the population
changes in biology and specifically the grouse population. However, he
has found that it is extremely difficult to find accurate data because
of the constant "noise," or interference in the grouse data. Hannah is
very confused about Thomasina's discovery and the importance surrounding
it. Valentine explains that her algorithms make it possible to intertwine
the unpredictable factors in nature with the predictable variables. Within
moments, Bernard enters the room in a state of high excitement because
he has just discovered the copy of "The Couch of Eros." Hannah has also
found something very vital to the plot, a note from Lady Croom to her husband
about her brother, Captain Brice, and his recent marriage to Mrs. Chater.
The two conclude that this is the same Mrs. Chater that was married to
Mr. Chater, the author of "The Couch of Eros." Consequently, they concluded
that Mrs. Chater must have been widowed. Bernard begins to make many assumptions
surrounding the death of Mr. Chater. He adamantly states that Lord Byron,
who was a friend of Septimus and a guest of the Crooms at Sidley Park,
attempted to seduce Mrs. Chater and as a result there was a duel between
Mr. Chater and Lord Byron
Characters in Arcadia. Mr. Chater was killed and Byron fled the scene.
rules of the duel, etc. Hannah refuses to take any credit for this
discovery because she still believes there are still too many discrepancies
in the story. For example, the idea that there is no proof that Lord Byron
ever visited Sidley Park. This argument was shattered by Valentine's statement
that Byron was actually in the game book. This signaled that Lord Byron
was in fact on the premises. Hannah continues to stand firm with her suspicions.
In fact, Hannah is still consumed with Thomasina's mathematical equations
to argue with Bernard about it. She refuses to dismiss what might have
been Thomasina's reasoning behind the continuation of the iterations and
what possessed her initial discovery.
Analysis Questions for Scene 4.
This scene opens with Bernard's passionate speech that he has written
with his information. He is practicing in front of Chloe, Gus and Valentine.
His main point was that Sidley Park was not a place about beautiful gardens
and architecture. It was about sex and literature. During his speech, Hannah
enters the room and disrupts numerous times. Hannah and Valentine begin
to question Bernard's logic. For example, on page 59, Hannah tells Bernard,
"You've left out everything which it doesn't fit." Chloe makes vast attempts
to help Bernard fill in the holes by making assumptions about what occurred.
The argument eventually evolves into a conversation about personalities
versus scientific progress. Bernard's opinion is that what really matters
is scientific progress and overall knowledge, not the people who actually
made the discoveries. Valentine leaves the room because he is frustrated
with Bernard's logic and Hannah and Bernard are left alone to engage in
another quarrel. Bernard is preparing to leave to catch his taxi to the
airport. The two eventually say their good-byes and Valentine re-enters
the room occupied with Hannah alone. Valentine has discovered the key to
the entire hermit mystery. The letter that Valentine has found gives the
hermit's date of birth and death. Hannah realizes that they are the same
as the tutor, Mr. Hodge. In her words, "The genius of Sidley Park living
on in a hermit's hut." This is the epitome of irony because Bernard has
just left to deliver a speech about what happened at Sidley Park and his
information is now void with this new finding.
Analysis Questions for Scene 5.
Scene six begins as Jellaby welcomes Septimus into the house after an
early morning hunting experience. Septimus enters the room and immediately
takes a dead rabbit out of his coat which he says is intended for Thomasina.
Jellaby takes little notice of the rabbit and proceeds to question Septimus
about his whereabouts the night before. Septimus responds by telling Jellaby
that he had slept in the boat-house, and it was from there that he had
seen a carriage leaving the park. To his surprise, Septimus then learns
that this carriage belonged to Captain Brice and had carried Mr. and Mrs.
Chater with Lord Byron on his horse following soon after. With some convincing
on Septimus' part, Jellaby begins to tell him about the event which had
lead to this sudden dismissal. He says that Lady Croom and Mrs. Chater
had run into each other outside Lord Byron's room. Then in the midst of
his story, Jellaby is interrupted by Lady Croom's entrance. At this point
Jellaby leaves and conversation continues between Septimus and Lady Croom,
who is holding two mysterious letters. Both letters had been written by
Septimus, one addressed to Lady Croom and the other to her daughter, Thomasina.
Lady Croom goes on to express her disapproval for both letters and her
anger towards Septimus. She requests that Septimus follow the other four
people who had left Sidley park the night before. While re-telling the
story of the previous night, Lady Croom is interrupted as Jellaby enters
the room with another letter. This one is written by Lord Byron and is
intended for Septimus. Not knowing its contents, Lady Croom doesnt approve
of this letter as it is written by someone who isn't welcome in her house.
Septimus doesnt argue but instead slowly sets fire to the un-opened envelope
-- "a letter by Lord Byron never to be read by a living soul." Then Septimus
agrees to leave Sidley Park as soon as possible. Lady Croom expects that
he would follow Mrs. Chater who was headed for the Indies with Captain
Brice and Mr. Chater, but Septimus says that he had no previous knowledge
of this expedition. The scene ends as Lady Croom asks Septimus how he could
write such a intimate letter to her, while also having "sexual congress"
with Mrs. Chater. To her surprise, Septimus says that Mrs. Chater had forced
herself on him, and in the midst of the passion, his only thoughts were
the imagination of Lady Croom's body in Mrs. Chater's place. Feeling flattered
and unsure how to respond, Lady Croom goes on to invite Septimus to her
room. The scene ends as she leaves the room and Septimus burns the two
letters he had written.
Analysis Questions for Scene 6.
ONLY READ THIS PORTION IF YOU ARE PREPARED TO KNOW HOW THE PLAY ENDS!
Scene seven is the most confusing and the hardest scene to understand. This is primarily because Stoppard constantly alternates between the two time periods and intermixes dialgoue from both. With the use of multiple conversations, the main objective of this scene is to show the viewer the connection between the characters of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century. Click here to read further about scene seven.
Go to scene two summary
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Go to scene six summary
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