The Coast of Utopia: Shipwreck

by Tom Stoppard

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Critical Overview

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Since both Turgenev and Karl Marx are both characters and focal points of discussion in Shipwreck, criticism of this play has taken a far more historical bent. Essentially, the play was not merely evaluated for its dramatic achievements, but also for its historical accuracy. In his foreword to the trilogy, Stoppard is very clear that he is a playwright first and an historian second. Still, in a play that hinges on ideological discourse and debate, it is nearly impossible to evaluate it without taking "history" into consideration.

To his credit, Stoppard is noted for making Shipwreck a more human work that its predecessor. The more personal scope of the action, coupled with increased stage time for some of the main characters brought praise for Stoppard's characterizations. Those less enthused with Shipwreck view the issue differently. In their eyes, Stoppard consistently interrupts scenes of intimate drama with theory-based monologues. Whether positively or negatively, critics note this fusion of individual and ideological concerns.

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