Arcadia Questions and Answers
by Tom Stoppard

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Please give an analysis on the home in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia.

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What is interesting about the presentation of home in this excellent play is the way that the Croom residents acts as an arena for two opposing schools of thought, symbolised in Lady Croom and the architect Richard Noakes. Let us remember that the play is about the conflict between Rationalism, and order on the one hand and Romanticism and intution on the other hand. Lady Croom is fighting in the play to maintain her classically-inspired gardens that are described as follows:

The slopes are green and gentle. The trees are companionably grouped at intervals that show them to advantage. The rill is a serpentine ribbon unwound from the lake peaceably contained by meadows on which the right amount of sheep are tastefully arranged.

Note the way in which order is the governing authority, and nature is "contained" and "arranged" by the power of reason. By contrast, Richard Noakes wants to destroy such order and replace it with a kind of Gothic wilderness, featuring a waterfall, a hermitage and a gloomy forest. His justification for such radical changes is that "it is the modern style." The home, then, and in particular the gardens, act as a way of presenting the conflict that dominates the play between reason and intuition, or Enlightenment vs. Romanticism.

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