21 Thermodynamics Essayexample

21 Thermodynamics Essayexample - JJJJJJ 1 MMMM JJJJJJJ Engl...

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MMMM JJJJJJJ Engl 295 Dr. Paul December 7, 2010 Unpredictable, Yet Undeniable Downfall: Thermodynamics in the Relationships of Arcadia Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia is a complex play which explores an array of themes from landscape design to literature to scientific and mathematical theories, but of these entire one can narrow the play down to two main themes: science and sex. Stoppard explores complex, scientific theories—namely the law of thermodynamics and entropy—and applies them to the lives of his characters, most especially to their relationships. The law of thermodynamics states that energy is neither created nor destroyed but that it is only transferred from one object or person to another. This transfer, also known as entropy, implies that “energy always changes to increasingly less orderly, less usable forms” (Gold 451). While the science embedded in this theory centers on the transfer of heat, Stoppard’s play focuses of the intellectual and sexual heat transferred between characters, and he compares them to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve and their acquisition of knowledge, especially understanding of sexual content. I argue that the relationships in Arcadia follow not only the law of thermodynamics, but also depict the fall of man, and ultimately end in cold destruction or death for the men. This fall can be more fully explored by specifically examining the characters of Septimus, Bernard, and Mr. Chater and analyzing how their interaction with the women in the play lead them to a loss of power and control, thus making the women a more dominating force. Septimus Hodge is one of the most important and complex characters in the play, and as such he shows the audience the most radical change, moving from a self-confident womanizer to JJJJJJ 1
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a crazy and solitary figure in the garden hermitage. But what causes this change? The central woman in his life, although he may not acknowledge it, is his pupil, Thomasina Coverly. The exchange of energy occurs from the first lines of the play and continues between these two characters throughout every dialogue. Septimus transfers his understanding of the world, and especially about sexual matters. Thomasina asks, “Septimus, what is carnal embrace?” and the audience amusedly hears Septimus’ response about how it is the practice of hugging a side of beef (Stoppard 1). Although this avoidance of an uncomfortable topic is amusing to the audience, it can also be seen as a defense mechanism Septimus uses to retain the knowledge he has obtained through experience and therefore be in a more powerful position intellectually than Thomasina. However, as the play continues Thomasina does learn the true definition of carnal embrace. Although her thoughts and actions are still very innocent, the audience can tell that she is learning and will continue to mature. In this way, Septimus transfers his knowledge to Thomasina, making her a more aware and powerful character. In the play, knowledge is not a considered a sin.
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2011 for the course ENG 295 taught by Professor Danettepaul during the Winter '11 term at BYU.

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21 Thermodynamics Essayexample - JJJJJJ 1 MMMM JJJJJJJ Engl...

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