• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Surface Brilliance of Tom Stoppard's 'Arcadia' Inhibits Appreciation of the Underlying Design, Discuss?

Extracts from this document...


The Surface Brilliance of Tom Stoppard's 'Arcadia' Inhibits Appreciation of the Underlying Design, Discuss? In a lecture at the University of California in January 1977, Stoppard himself admitted that there might be some idea content lurking beneath the surface. He was referring here to the underlying design of his plays. This underlying design refers to puns and metaphors intricately dispersed throughout the play, along with themes that only reveal themselves upon closer inspection. The surface brilliance of Stoppard's plays is something that is clearly evident to all that read or watch Arcadia. It is full of linguistic flair such as hyperbole and apostrophe giving it immediate audience appeal, the sarcasm and innuendos only add to this, immediately giving the play a sense of comedy and also serve to emphasise the plot. But then 'Stoppard had always written plays of ideas disguised as comedy, or as he says, plays that' make serious points by slinging a custard pie around the stage for a couple of hours'. As far as Arcadia is concerned the underlying design contains many key points craftily disguised; one such example appears during a conversation between Septimus and Thomasina, in which Thomasina makes a point about her rice pudding being stirred forwards and the jam spreading itself out as she does. However when it is stirred backward the jam does not come together again. ...read more.


For example the use of hyperbole as Septimus argues with Chater and claims that Mrs Chater's reputation could not be defended by a 'platoon of musketry deployed by rota'. However, occasionally there is a serious point to be made; a good example of this is Thomasina's rice pudding metaphor. It can be said in this instance that the surface brilliance does inhibit the underlying design because the audience may not think any deeper than Thomasina simply making a statement about something her rice pudding does instead of really looking into the complex observation about the passage of time. For this point to be emphasised it was once said that 'Stoppard had undertaken to provide a satisfying evening's entertainment for a broad spectrum of theatregoers, and to do so with out underrating the audience's intelligence'. With this idea in mind, one can say that perhaps Stoppard used the metaphor simply to get a complicated point across. If Stoppard had attempted to explain what he was trying to say in complicated terms, perhaps the play would not have been as enjoyable for the audience and may have meant they would not have been able to fully appreciate the point Stoppard was trying to make. When looking at this example alone it can be seen why Stoppard may have thought it appropriate to blur the underlying design of the play with this surface brilliance. ...read more.


To which Septimus can only reply by attempting to move the conversation on. Throughout the play the surface brilliance continually keeps the audience interested, and it is because of this that it seems Stoppard intentionally uses it so that the audience may concentrate more effortlessly on the play and discover the underlying design if they feel the need. The sound of gunshots that continually reappear during the play, present the audience with an opportunity to make the decision, whether to appreciate it as a foreboding of the death of Chater, or simply as a gunshot during a hunt. Arcadia, as a whole seems to present a strong argument that the surface brilliance really does not inhibit the underlying design; the audience is able to fully appreciate each part of the play. The language, characters and plot provide entertainment for the whole audience but particularly appeals to those who do not wish to examine the play closely. Then the rest of the audience can look beneath the surface whilst appreciating it and also appreciate the underlying design by recognising the parallels and examining the characters and language very closely. Although Arcadia is structured in quite a complicated manner it is easy enough to follow. The language as a whole is quite colloquial making it very appealing to a whole variety of audiences. Studying the surface brilliance alone would not make the play confusing, showing that Stoppard had perhaps thought about this and made the play enjoyable to those who will look deeply at it and those who will purely enjoy the surface brilliance. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Plays section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Plays essays

  1. Jumpers. The play is written by Tom Stoppard in 1972. The main theme of ...

    this can be seen also as the understanding of how the Rad-Lib movement ends up leading to death. * The name shows their unstable state of mind, their jumping around concepts, not having a single mentality as they are relativists.

  2. Context for Vinegar Tom

    An example of this, I think is a part in the song where it states: "Why are you putting my brain in my cunt?

  1. "The Real Inspector Hound" written by Tom Stoppard

    to sound pushed and unnatural, this is what Stoppard was mocking "including Magnus the wheelchair- ridden half brother of her ladyship's husband lord Albert Muldoon who ten years ago. . . ." When this quote was read by our Mrs Drudge with the gestures, actions we had described it create the exact effect we thought Stoppard wanted.

  2. Set design for 'he Long and the Short and theTall

    I could direct this through the window and doors to show sunlight streaming in through the jungle. It would be impractical to use a conventional light, as there would not be enough space to have it at a safe angle due to the possibility of it burning out.

  1. How successfully do you think Tom Hanks engages the sympathy of the audience as ...

    Forrest described their relationship as Peas and Carrots. Forrest sometimes took their relationship to far and thought it was his duty to protect her. An example of this is at the girl's college and Jenny is in the car with another man kissing, and Forrest runs over to the car

  2. How research material was gathered and used within the process of writing a play.

    where else when we found out this information, as a group we approached her and said that this behaviour was not acceptable she apologised and we were able to carry on our devising productively. We then agreed if any one had a problem they should speak about it rather than

  1. "Schadenfreude" means 'taking pleasure out of someone else's misfortune.' Both "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are ...

    six monkeys were thrown up in the air for long enough they would land on their tails about as often as they would land on their" Ros: "Heads" This quote provides an example of where the audience gets a chortle at the misfortune of Guildenstern.

  2. A critical analysis of the introduction to Arcadia

    This creates a ridiculous image for sake of humour. Much of the humour comes from sexual innuendo and the contrast between Septimus's elegant, educated language and the crude subject matter. The relationship between Septimus and Thomasina is a sexual undercurrent, which runs throughout the play, although it always remains unfulfilled.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work