Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

In Jumpers, the philosophical crisis experienced by George Moore, the hero of the play, is reflected in all aspects of the plot and characterization. George attempts to prove the existence of God—“the Necessary Being, the First Cause, the Unmoved Mover!!”—in order to provide his own philosophical arguments with stability. However, he is never successful in proving this existence, only in describing his need to believe in God in the face of an increasingly popular logical positivism. “The truth to us philosophers,” Archie tells Crouch, “is always an interim judgment.” Logical positivism is but one manifestation of a more general loss of faith. A lack of a moral absolute affects all the diverse worlds of the play: the philosophical world, the musical stage, the murder mystery, and the world that exists around them.

In the first act of the play Tom Stoppard sets up the many examples of this moral and ethical instability. The Radical-Liberal Party has taken over the government and the media by force and rationalized the churches; Sam Clegthorpe, the Rad-Lib Spokesman for Agriculture, has been made archbishop of Canterbury. A two-man team has traveled to the moon; however, an equipment malfunction has made it possible for only one to return, and Captain Scott selfishly strands his crewmate to die.

Each of the main characters is affected by this loss of idealism. Dotty’s inability to reconcile her romantic vision of the...

(The entire section is 529 words.)