What sorts of themes are there in common between A Portrait of The Artist As A Young Man, Arcadia, and Where Angels Fear To Tread?
I have to write a synthesis essay AP Lit style about those three texts.
These are three very interesting texts. If you are looking for a common theme between them, I would personally be tempted to approach them from the perspective of how the characters develop and mature during the course of the texts and end up very different in terms of their knowledge at the end.
In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, for example, we can see that there is a definite focus on the character of Stephen Dedalus, and how he moves from being a young child to his time of studying at college. Through this time frame of about twenty years, we can see that Stephen develops in terms of how he defines himself, his understanding of adult life and the kinds of norms and values that exist in this millieu, and lastly his fascination with sex.
In the same way, in Where Angels Fear to Tread, we can see that key characters develop and learn important lessons about themselves and society at large through the action of the plot. This is particularly true for Philip, who, at the end of the novel does not meet with success with Miss Abbot, who, he discovers, is actually in love with Carella, the brute and vulgar Italian. He has his notions of what is and is not attractive profoundly challenged.
Lastly, in Arcadia, the conflict between Romanticism and Enlightenment thought finds its focus in the way in which representatives for either of these groups are forced to acknowledge the value of the other school of thought. They change and develop in terms of ending up with a more rounded view of society at large. For example, Bernard is in a great hurry to publish and advertise his theory before having all the facts, and is very chagrined to realise that he was incredibly wrong. If he had been less Romantic and more cautious and not dependent upon intuition, he would have done a lot better. In teh same way, Valentine is forced to concede that there is some form of "genius" which is based on intuition, that is not measurable.