In Arcadia, which characters view the universe in a Romantic way and which in a classical way?

Quick answer:

Arcadia contains both characters who see the world romantically and classically. Though many of the characters display characteristics of both, usually each lays heavily on one side of the argument. Characters that view the world classically include Thomasina, Lady Croom, Hannah, and Valentine. Romantic characters include Richard Noakes and Bernard.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia positions the conflicting viewpoints of classicism and Romanticism through the characters, presenting the differences between the intellectual and the emotional and order versus disorder but also displaying that these ideas can co-exist.

Classical characters include the following:

Thomasina, though she has characteristics of both the classical and the Romantic, leans heavily on the side of the classical. Thomasina understands thermodynamics at only thirteen years of age.

Hannah is a researcher who relies on reason rather than emotion. She states that the Romantic era was a "sham," and she prefers the garden's original classical design to the gothic remodel made by Noakes.

Lady Croom laments the changes being made to her classical garden by Mr. Noakes but allows them to happen anyway.

Valentine is a mathematician who explains complicated ideas to other characters in the play. He is very passionate about progress in the sciences.

Romantic characters include the following:

Richard Noakes, with his gothic remodeling plans for the garden, embodies a counter response to the classical by transforming the formerly orderly classic gardens.

Bernard believes in following instinct rather than scientific data, and he uses this to drive his theory that Byron killed Chater. This is in opposition to Hannah, who relies on facts. Bernard, consequently, is embarrassed when he learns his theory is incorrect.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Which characters from Arcadia view the universe in a Romantic way and which view it in a Classical way?

As Tom Stoppard’s play mixes up past and present, the playwright also shows how Romantic and Classical views clashed not only in the early 1800s but more than a century later. The Romantic view, which challenged the rationality of Classicism, is developed through characters that include Richard Noakes and Chloe Coverly. A Classical perspective, which is alive and well in the present through intellectuals and scientists such as Hannah Jarvis and Valentine Coverley, is developed for the nineteenth-century characters through Thomasina Coverley.

Part of Arcadia is set in the early nineteenth century, when the Romantic view challenged the dominance of Classicism that had gained hold during the Enlightenment. Romanticism is represented through the differing attitudes toward love, marriage, and nature. The real-life figure of Lord Byron, who is mentioned as a visitor to the estate but never seen, emphasizes this Romantic side. Richard Noakes, who is said to have been at school with Byron, exemplifies Romanticism through his plans to turn the Classical gardens into a seemingly natural wilderness. In modern times, the free-love emphasis associated with Romanticism is developed through Chloe Coverley.

In the modern portion, Hannah Jarvis is an inquisitive scholar who intends to conduct research and solve an intellectual mystery. Her level-headed rationality represents a Classical perspective. Valentine Coverley is a graduate student devoted to science and the pursuit of knowledge. His attachment to statistics and factual evidence marks him as Classically oriented. His ancestor Thomasina is primarily Classical in her analytical abilities, but her natural brilliance, which can be considered Romantic, is an element of her genius that puts her ahead of her time.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on