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Compare the ways Wilde presents the main female protagonist in The importance of being Earnest with the way Stoppard presents the women in Arcadia.

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Explore the ways Stoppard presents the characters of Thomasina and Hannah in ?Arcadia?. Compare the ways Wilde presents the main female protagonist in ?The importance of being Earnest? with the way Stoppard presents the women in ?Arcadia?. How far do you agree that Stoppard's presentation is more effective? Stoppard uses the characters of Hannah and Thomasina to convey the principal theme; the shift from enlightenment to romanticism . The valiant characters of Thomasina and Hannah are depicted as being ambitious, intuitive and act as the vehicle from where Stoppard is allowed to express his views regarding women in the Victorian era. Stoppard believes that women were undervalued in a society from where they achieved so much, and by depicting the likes of Thomasina and Hannah as independent, headstrong women, he is demanding the rethink of the archetypal view of Victorian women in the modern era. Hannah Jarvis, in Arcadia encapsulates the enlightenment era; with her emphasis on logical reasoning to reinforce proposed theories and the confrontations between Hannah and Bernard portray the vast differences between the periods of enlightenment and romanticism. Hannah believes in the ideology of romance being a ?romantic sham? and challenging Bernard (who firmly embodies the era) as being ?reckless? and completely tarnishing his proposed theory as being ?bollocks?. Hannah further conveys the more pragmatic concept of the enlightenment period in her dress sense - ?she wears nothing frivolous?, compared to the ?flamboyant? Bernard who Hannah believes is entrapped in the ignorance and false portrayals of romance. ...read more.


The final waltz between Hannah and Gus suggests that even the most enlightened of us (thus being Hannah) are liable to romantic tendencies. The end of the play brings all of these themes together, showing that although things may appear to contradict?romanticism and enlightenment, intuition and logic, thought and feeling ? they can exist, paradoxically, in the same time and space. Stoppard, by concluding the play in the middle of the death of Thomasina forces us to think about the storytelling order. Defining a clear beginning, middle, and end to a story helps us to make sense out of chaos, but even so, the play reminds us that beginnings and endings can be just as arbitrary as the steps of a waltz. Thomasina embodies both aspects of romanticism and enlightenment; as well as having these new ?radical? ideas, Thomasina is also interested in the art of sex and love. At the age of 13, she is inquisitive and is almost obsessed with wanting to know more about ?Carnal embrace?. The inquisitive nature of Thomasina enforces the point that she is curious but also willing to learn; although not always understanding, she is never afraid to ask, to challenge. Through this, Stoppard successfully portrays Thomasina as being an adventurous and courageous women in 19th century England. The idea of heat (and the second law of thermodynamics) is thus represented through the actions of the characters. ...read more.


This further suggests that Gwendolyn wants men to look at her in a desirous way, as if she specifically needs male influences to validate her. This in contrast to Hannah who is classically reserved and ?wears nothing frivolous.? I would agree with the statement that ?Stoppard presents the female characters more effectively? than Wilde, to a certain extent. Stoppard?s female characters exhibit a greater degree of complexity and aptitude such as Thomasina?s embodiment from the shift from the somewhat dry ideals of the enlightenment to the emotional and more attached elements of romanticism. The fatal ending also gives us an insight to Stoppard views on the drastic limitations of romanticism. Hannah, who is surely Stoppard nearest representative in the play symbolizes all aspects of the enlightenment period. Wilde, contrastingly highlights the upper class stereotypes and characters by giving us a light hearted insight into Victorian society. Gwendolyn represents a typical upper class women in the Victorian era who is educated to a certain extent but the idea of marriage and finding the ?idyllic? love is her main drive. Similarly like Thomasina?s depiction of Cleopatra, Gwendolyn allows love and sex to stand in the way of her education. Both Stoppard and Wilde use different writing techniques to convey their complex characters personalities; Hannah's complex monologues are used by Stoppard to reflect the intellect and rational approach of enlightenment while Gwendolyn?s romantic dialogue tentatively mocks some of the attitude of the Victorian upper classes. ...read more.

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