Human Knowledge in Hawksmoor and Arcadia: A Comparison 12th Grade

Hannah, a character from Arcadia, asserts, “It’s all trivial...it’s wanting to know that makes us matter”, a statement which suggests that the need for knowledge is an essential part of human nature. Stoppard and Ackroyd explore this concept through themes such as emotion vs. Intellect, the concept of ignorance, learning and teaching and the effect of the texts on the audience, but while Stoppard argues for human knowledge, Ackroyd is more ambiguous and questions its necessity further.

The main dichotomy explored is emotion vs. intellect. In Arcadia, the garden symbolises this conflict, as it represents “the decline from thinking to feeling” and “the Age of Enlightenment [being] banished into the Romantic wilderness”: the intellectual shift in Europe as emotion overpowered intellect. Lady Croom attacks this scheme cuttingly, wondering at the need for a wilderness of a garden when classical, rational order is more appealing; thus, it seems at first that Stoppard is criticising the new garden and the Romantic Movement. This impression is enhanced when Thomasina criticises Cleopatra for falling in love and allowing a great library to be burned, thus favouring intellect over emotion. Later, she carelessly says “let them elope, they...

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