How does Arcadia use scientific experiments to teach about life?
Science is a definite theme in this excellent play, as Thomasina struggles to understand the world around her using the science and mathematical thought of her day and ends up finding that there are limitations in this approach. Science in her day was about explaining the unexplainable and organising it into neat and tidy blocks of understanding. Thomasina, through her repeated reference to chaos theory, is not a fan of this view, and seeks to find a science that will capture the messiness of life and the reality of what life is all about. Note what she says in response to Septimus when he tells her that geometry is said by Hobbes to be the only science God has given humans:
Oh, pooh to Hobbes! Mountains are not pyramids and trees are not cones. God must love gunnery and architecture if Euclid is his only geometry.
Thomasina wishes science to be able to capture not just objective realities and abstract principles, but the subjective reality and disorganisation of life. Again and again in this play, the limits of science are observed, as science is shown, for example, to be unable to capture the essence of literature and a division is drawn between science and art. Scientific experiments are therefore used to highlight the irrational and chaotic nature of life that cannot be predicted or studied objectively.