Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead Passage Analysis High School Essay

1167 words - 5 pages

In Tom Stoppard’s play, Arcadia, the playwright juxtaposes the ideals of Rationalism (reflecting the ideas of classicism) and Romanticism. Stoppard uses the tension between the two classes of ideas to explore their interplay, with equal importance being placed on both sides of the conflict. Regarding this idea, Stoppard comments that “even the facility to perceive and define two ideas such as the classical and the romantic in opposition to each other indicates that one shares a little bit of each.” Furthermore, Stoppard utilises the overarching Rationalism – Romanticism conflict to establish various sub-conflicts that further explore the main ideas of the play and serve to make the duality in themes, motifs and characters more dynamic. It is clear that Stoppard’s main impetus for Arcadia is also the main conflict lying at the heart of the play. Stoppard plays the conflict out through alternating scenes set in both ‘present day’ and another time period (around the early 1800s). Finally, to conclude his grand contrast, Stoppard has his characters transgress the boundaries of time and space to unite in a pivotal final scene.
From a mostly aesthetic point of view, Stoppard’s juxtaposition of time manifests itself in the juxtaposition of Sidley Park’s landscape movements. In the 1800s scenes, Sidley Park is undergoing changes to become more in line with the new “modern style”. In sequences set in ‘present day’, Hannah Jarvis is desperately searching for the identity of the Sidley Hermit, part of her proposed theory for the development of the Romantic imagination. Hence, the clash in the change in landscape from the Classical to the Romantic is a direct allusion to the clash between the geometric and the natural. A further argument cementing the importance of this juxtaposition exists in the characters within the landscape itself, more precisely, internal conflicts in characters such as Septimus Hodge. He, for example, is initially presented as a completely imperturbable classicist. However, later on in the play, Septimus is driven insane by the unfortunate death of his pupil, Thomasina. He spends the rest of his life in the hermitage working on the various academic ideas that his pupil had inadvertently come across. In a way, Septimus had become his temperamental opposite, a ‘hapless’ romantic. Another more apparent conflict in character traits exists in the rift between Hannah and Bernard. Hannah, from the onset, is set forth as a typical classicist. The extent of her logical mode of thought extends to her sense in fashion, she wears nothing frivolous and her outfits are practical. Hannah also feels sensibly averse to romantic attitudes, which she believes is merely a stage of cheap thrills and arbitrary emotions. Bernard, on the other hand, represents the Romantic academic. He places value on impulse and has a flamboyant dress-sense. By contrasting Hannah and Bernard through verbal clashes, Stoppard also contrasts intuition and reason, ...

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