Newton In Arcadia

Newton and his theories are found in the play, Arcadia, in several instances. For example, in Act 1 scene 1, Septimus states the following:

"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 in disorder until pink is complete, unchanging and unchangeable, and we are done wit it for ever. This is known as free will or self-determination."

One might ask how this may relate to Newton and his ideas. It is with his three laws of motion that correspond to this quote. In his first law that states, "Every body routines in a state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it." In the case of Arcadia, things are unchangeable unless free will or self-determination acts as a force of nature. Also, this quote implies that individualism and a desire are necessary in order to move forward in life. As Septimus said, we must have the determination to do things for ourselves instead of letting nature choose for us.

Another example can be found in Act 2, scene 7, of Arcadia. Here Hannah says, "That you can't run the film backwards. Heat was the first thing which didn't work that way. Not like Newton. A film of a pendulum, or a ball falling through the air-backwards, it looks the same. "

This statement made by Valentine, a character of present time, suggests Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation (what comes up must come down) as well as his third law of motion (for every action, their is an equal, opposite reaction). He states that you cannot run things backwards, unlike Newton's third law of motions, where everything has an opposite reaction. Furthermore, a ball falling through the air would be impossible according the the Universal Law of Gravitation discovered by Newton. It is with this same belief that Septimus thinks that "the Newtonian universe must cease and grow cold," if one hopes to change what fate and nature has decided. Newton's theories are rigid in their scientific beliefs but are not applicable to real life where anything can happen if self-determination exists.


    1. Return to the Newton mainpage.
    2. Events from Newton's life.
    3. Study a summary of Newton's theories.
    4. Interesting Quotes by Sir Isaac Newton.

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