Arcadia was set in two different time periods: 1890 and the present. This intertwining of the past and present illustrates the comparable relationship between the quests for knowledge over time. Arcadia begins with a scene from 1890. Septimus Hodge, played by a fellow zeta, Jordan Voges, was tutoring young Thomasina Coverly who was played by Sarah Carpenter. Thomasina is very bright for her young age and Septimus is intrigued by her but doesn't allude to it. The scene plays on to introduce a couple more characters such as Ezra Chater, played by Alex Wright, and the gardener, Mr. Noakes, played by Alan Holasek. The audience begins to understand that Septimus is a womanizer who's had relations with Mrs. Chater and Lady Croom. Lady Croom (played by Natalie Pieper) is Thomasina's mother. Very prevalent in the first scene was the thirst for knowledge. Every character, especially Thomasina was filled with curiosity for mathematical and sexual knowledge. The aspiration for historical knowledge becomes more prominent in the next scene. This scene includes Hannah Jarvis, played by Danessa Snustad, and four other characters who contribute to the story. The present day characters are working assiduously to discover what really occurred during 1890 at the home of Thomasina. These present day characters begin to discover information about the past while their own story unfolds. Bernard Nightingale, played by Scott Tolzmann, is searching for information on Ezra Chater. Chloe (played by Erika Bjornstad) is searching for "love." Hannah is searching for information on Septimus. As more scenes play out, there is a struggle between emotion and intelligence. Hannah Jarvis and Valentine Coverly represent intellect while Thomasina and Septimus exemplify emotion. The audience also begins to see more of the passion for both knowledge and love. In the last scene, the two time periods truly do become intertwined. Most of the characters are on stage. There is much more chaos. Valentine and Hannah discovered the genius of Thomasina and how her theorem would have made her famous had she not died before age seventeen. The scene constantly switches between past and present but the two stories begin to connect more and more. In one scene Thomasina is asking Septimus to teach her how to waltz. In the other scene, Gus who is a mute boy but fond of Hannah, and Hannah begin to dance. Septimus realizes his love for Thomasina right before her untimely death. Both couples Waltz as the final scene comes to a conclusion.
This play had much deep meaning and many interpretations. Some say that the original writer of Arcadia, Tom Stoppard was a genius. There is much passion exhibited in the play: passion for knowledge and passion for sex. These passions are constantly seen in today's society especially the latter. Marketing and advertising exploit such passions. Stoppard builds on these passions to give the play a deeper meaning and to relate it to today's society. Furthermore, he juxtaposed the lives of similar people from the 19th century and from the present time. This helped to illustrate how intellect has not changed; only the technology has. Also passion is unchanged from the past to the present. Finally, Arcadia brought together these two opposite time periods to bring about a deeper meaning by relating the 19th century to today's society.
I found this play to be rather difficult to follow. There were so many different events occurring and so much intellectual talk that I felt it was over my head. Even though the play exhibited both love and intellect, I thought that the intellect was overshadowing the passion. It was ultimately difficult to decipher who loved whom. Because I'm such a sap for romantic comedies, I was begging for a little more love and a little less of the mathematical equations. Also, the themes were very challenging to figure out. I had to do a lot of research on my own to fully appreciate the play. All in all, I thought the play was difficult to follow, but I have more appreciation for it now because of the deeper meanings within it.
Teresa of Avila lived from 1515 to 1582. She became a nun in the Carmelite order in 1535 and she wrote about her life there in her autobiography which is where the reading comes from. Teresa considered herself to be wicked even though she came from a large, Christian family with good morals. She explained in her autobiography how she began to stray away from her faith when she began to read a lot. Also, she began to care more about her outward appearance. She took her appearance into much consideration for many years and looking back, she thought she had done very wrong. She also started a friendship with a relative who taught her about immoral things and ungodly things. Her parents greatly disliked this relationship. She considered herself clever at doing what was wrong. She wrote, "As a result of my intercourse with this person, I was so changed that I lost nearly all my soul's natural disposition to virtue, so influenced was I by her and by another who was given to the same kind of amusements..." Later on she was taken to a convent so she could be educated. Being around the nuns gave Teresa a new and much holier perspective. She fought with poor health for much of her life. When she was at the convent, she experienced severe fainting fits along with fevers. Her ailments began to get worse during her first year in the nunnery. At one time, she went to a town to undergo terrible "treatments" hoping her disease would be cured. Outside of her illness, she wanted to be guided to God with the help of someone but nobody would help her. Later on, she believed it was by God's choice that no one was there to teach her. Teresa wrote, "For I believe it would have been impossible for me to persevere for the eighteen years during which I suffered this trial and these great aridities, though not being able, as I have said, to meditate." She believed that the Lord released her of her wickedness and had greatly improved her life.
Her autobiography showed how her thoughts changed much about God throughout her life. Even though she came from a highly religious family, she was strayed away from religion by corrupt relatives. She looked back on her wickedness later in life and still chose to be one with God. She chose to become a nun. Also, she learned from her previous mistakes. The lessons she learned are very relatable. She found love for God and she learned that this is the greatest love of all.
I felt that this story was very relatable. Many Christians have dealt with the issue of straying away from God. There are so many bad temptations in today's world that it becomes very difficult to stay faithful. Most people deal with similar trials in their life. I can say that I have also dealt with a trial like hers. In high school, I dealt with anxiety issues and finally I was discussing the issues with a teacher and she asked my how my spiritual life was. Needless to say, I had very little spirituality in my life at the time and so I took her words to heart and began reading psalms in the bible while also listening in church more. I have learned from issues in my life just like Teresa of Avila did but she went a much holier path by becoming a nun.