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Arcadia Essay - Thomasina

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Introduction

How is Thomasina presented by Stoppard in "Arcadia", and what methods and techniques does he use? In "Arcadia", Tom Stoppard uses many different techniques and methods to affect our opinion of Thomasina, one of the main characters in the play. Many of these techniques are successful, as by the end of the play the majority of the audience will have formed a strong opinion of Thomasina. The opening few lines that she speaks in the play are all questions; immediately this gives a good first impression as the audience can see that Thomasina is not afraid to be inquisitive. She asks, "Septimus, what is carnal embrace?" We can then see that she is not satisfied with the answer she is given, leading her to ask, "Is that all?" This gives the impression that she is very clever and not afraid to ask questions of her elders. In the first scene, this creates a favourable opinion as the audience can sense that Thomasina will be an interesting character to have in the play. We are also given the slight idea by Stoppard that Thomasina does not ask the questions entirely in innocence, and has perhaps simply asked them to make Septimus nervous. This again makes the audience feel that she is very intelligent. It also creates ambiguity around the character for the audience as they are curious to Thomasina's true personality. The audience is clearly shown Thomasina's intelligence throughout the play; she constructs her arguments as well (sometimes better) as any adults around her or those that we see in the future. When asked what she knows of carnal embrace (having brought the subject up to deflect attention from Septimus), she replies: "Everything, thanks to Septimus. In my opinion, Mr Noakes's scheme for the garden is perfect. It is a Salvator!" This method of deflection of attention onto her by Thomasina is extremely clever, as she senses the trouble Septimus has got himself into and quickly takes control of the situation. ...read more.

Middle

A main technique of presenting Thomasina to the audience is by using the other characters in the play, from the old and modern scenes. A part of this is by having the character of Chloe in the modern time, who is both a contrasting and a similar character to Thomasina. Chloe is a much more aggressive, modern style character who uses far less informal language than Thomasina does during the play. She also seems less innocent than Thomasina. For example, Chloe says, "If you don't want him, I'll have him. Is he married?" This is a suggestive thing to say - a direct contrast to Thomasina's opening line "What is carnal embrace?" Having this contrast with the more direct Chloe makes Thomasina seem much more na�ve, which again gives the audience the feeling of superiority. An audience is more likely to relate to a character that they do not feel inferior to - so this is a clever method of Stoppard's to push the audience into liking Thomasina. However, both characters are curious and inquisitive, asking the question "Do you think I'm the first person to think of this?" I think that this illustrates that both Thomasina and Chloe have new ideas and are not afraid to be different. As Chloe is more of an outgoing character than Thomasina, this might make audiences subconsciously think of Thomasina as more entertaining also. The differences in time and tradition in the play become more apparent as the play continues - we see similarities and differences between various characters. The biggest obvious contrast is the behaviour of the characters, as in the earlier time they are much more polite to one another and use more formal language. This is why Chloe has such a large effect on the perception of Thomasina - Chloe uses slang terms occasionally and swears, whereas Thomasina is very polite and it is clear to see a lot of emphasis was put on manners in that time. ...read more.

Conclusion

It also saddens the audience somewhat as we felt close to Thomasina in the earlier stages of the play. Telling us the outcome of the play before it reaches it is a subtle technique by Tom Stoppard of affecting the audience's final opinion of Thomasina. The overall ending of the play creates a lot of emotion around and about Thomasina, as the audience already knows what is going to happen. Thomasina is adamant that Septimus will teach her how to waltz. It is the first time during the play that we see Thomasina do anything rebellious or remotely outgoing. The candle is specifically mentioned in the scene, Septimus warns her "Be careful with the flame". This increases the sadness for the audience as we know she dies in the fire, and is a clever technique of Stoppard's to make the audience remember what will happen. However, in this scene we last see Thomasina happy as she has learnt to waltz as she wished. I think this scene is generated the way it is by Stoppard to ensure that the audience remembers Thomasina as a character with lots of depth. We also feel a lot of sadness for and towards her as we have seen Thomasina grow up. As she managed to fulfil her ambition to learn to waltz, however, it also has a slightly happy undertone as she would have died after doing something she wanted. The change that Thomasina undergoes throughout the play ensures that the audience can relate to her much more than might have been though at the beginning of the play. I think Stoppard would have planned this change in her character from the start so that he could manipulate the audience into really becoming fond of the one of the main characters in the play. The success of the play, in part, will depend on how the audience views Thomasina, and this is why the techniques Stoppard uses to present her to the audience are so important. Laura Clark 10G ...read more.

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