Arcadia Metaphors and Similes

Bernard Going through the Library (Simile)

Hannah remarks that "Bernard is going through the library like a bloodhound" (48). Bernard's greedy and intense way of searching for info that benefits him is compared to a bloodhound sniffing a scent.

Platonic Letter (Simile)

Bernard believes, "There is a platonic letter which confirms everything - lost but ineradicable, like radio voices rippling through the universe for all eternity" (61). Bernard compares the putative lost letter to a radio voice lost in the ether.

Life and the Quest for Knowledge (Metaphor)

Septimus compares life and the quest for knowledge to travelers on a journey. "We shed as we pick up, like travelers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it." As the novel spans multiple centuries, multiple generations, and multiple modes of thought, this is borne out. What Thomasina starts is finished by later scholars, and will no doubt be elaborated on more in the future. The quest for knowledge will never be fully completed.

Rice Pudding (Metaphor)

The jam stirred into the rice pudding, described by Septimus, is a metaphor for how time moves inexorably forward and we cannot rewind it backwards. Heat is always lost, energy is dissipated, entropy takes over. This observation of Thomasina is borne out in the scientific theories discussed by the modern-day characters.

Progress of Human Knowledge (Metaphor)

Valentine discusses the linear progress of human knowledge in terms of a door and house. "You can't open a door until there's a house" (83). Thomasina cannot know things if others have not made discoveries that paved the way. She may have some idea what is happening but there must be a framework for her to operate within before she can fully engage in the fruits of her ideas. Thus, the computer needs to exist, but it does not in the 19th century.