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arcadia schmadia[1][1] - The Balance of Knowledge In the...

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The Balance of Knowledge In the play “Arcadia” by Tom Stoppard, Hannah Jarvis is a hardworking scholar who does not allow herself to love or feel emotion about anything other than her work. Hannah escapes attempts by other characters to open her to the ideas of the romantic age, love and feeling, in favor of ideas of the Enlightenment, reason and logic. Throughout the play, the other central characters come to some balance of the ideas as events lead them to discover and accept each kind of thinking. Hannah is no exception, but her change in thinking is not seen until the last image of the play. Hannah’s inherent need for love eventually leaves her unable to deny both ideas. Hannah’s progression from believing only classical ideas to accepting romantic ideas suggests both that she needs a balance of types of knowledge and that permanently having only one type of knowledge is impossible. Hannah’s prior wounds have left her unwilling to bear the costs of love. The lack of reason in feeling and emotion has led her to shun romantic knowledge. At the beginning of the play, Hannah believes academic knowledge is most important. She ignores when Valentine calls her his fiancé and becomes upset when Bernard calls her darling. Hannah’s strong feelings opposing love suggest she has had prior negative experience with love. She says of love, “Chaps sometimes wanted to marry me, and I don't know a worse bargain. Available sex against not being allowed to fart in bed” (63).
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