The Significance Of History In Arcadia By Tom Stoppard

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Arcadia, a play by Tom Stoppard, examines an English estate in two different time periods and discusses the relevance of the estate’s history. The audience travels back and forth in time as the present day characters learn about the lives of those who lived almost two centuries before them. While costumes, actors, and syntax styles make time travel evident to the audience, the set does not shift at all. Furthermore, all props that are used on stage remain there, whether they be a quill pen or a coffee mug. One prop in particular, a tortoise, is used throughout both worlds. This tortoise best exemplifies one of the major themes of the play, that history is relevant for as long as it matters to someone. In 1809, the audience meets a young girl, Thomasina, and her tutor, Septimus. As they learn about and prove theories well ahead of the time period, a guest in the home, Ezra Chater, learns that his wife has been caught with another man. The play then shifts to the present day, where a writer, Hannah, meets Bernard, a …show more content…
In the present, it still has the same significance to Hannah and Valentine, who have named the tortoise Lightning. The audience sees Septimus hold Plautus back as it moves off the papers it is holding and pet the shell, suggesting that Plautus is alive. Valentine also feeds Lightning and holds him, petting him as if he is still alive in the future. The characters Valentine and Septimus are written to be historical parallels of each other, as displayed through their knowledge of the theories discussed throughout the play and there fascination with Thomasina’s findings. The Lantern Theater Company displayed this well in their production of Arcadia, as Valentine and Septimus would sit in the same seat at the table throughout the production. They were also the primary characters who would interact with the tortoise throughout the

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