Order and Disorder in Tom Stoppard’s ‘Arcadia’ College

In Arcadia, Tom Stoppard presents a dynamic interplay of order and disorder that exists ‘eternally and creatively’ (Demastes 91). Order is generally associated with laws, structure, control, and in the play, it is exemplified by the Classical temperament, corresponding also to Newtonian science. Its antithesis is Romanticism, which is exemplified by disorder, emotions and intuition, as well as deterministic chaos. Through the dialectic of order and disorder, Stoppard suggests that ‘life can be chaotic, but also stable, and within chaos there are windows of order’ (Fleming 67). Thus, although we may not ultimately attain knowledge, it is still worthy to pursue knowledge, as the very pursuit of knowledge is justified and worthy in itself. The incompleteness and chaos of unknowing is a state that we must come to embrace, as it is necessary to provide impetus for change and life itself.

The jam pudding that Thomasina stirs, is reflective of the natural progress from order to disorder. As the jam is stirred, the trails of jam move towards a larger disorder that cannot be stirred back together by going the other direction, as she ‘cannot stir them apart’ (8). This is contradictory to the Newtonian laws, which ‘go forwards and...

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