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Arcadia

Tom Stoppard

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Garden

The Gardens of Sidley Park symbolize the transformation and transition between romanticism and classicism. Mr. Noakes wishes to alter the gardens into the picturesque and thoroughly romantic style and means to tear out the gazebo in favor of a hermitage and drain the lake with a newly improved steam engine. Lady Croom accuses Mr. Noakes of reading too many novels by Radcliff, such as The Castle of Otranto (actually written by Horace Walpole, as Mr. Chater points out), and The Mysteries of Udolpho. Mr. Noakes means to transform the green, lush perfect Englishman's garden into an "eruption of gloomy forest and towering crag," Lady Croom describes it as a haunt of "hobgoblins." As Hannah describes it, the garden is a classical painting imposed on landscape or "untamed nature in the style of Salvatore Rosa … everything but vampires". The garden represents romanticism, (for Hannah) a decline from thinking to emotion, and the need for "false emotion" and "cheap thrills."

Regency Clothes

The modern day characters wear the Regency Clothes or clothes that would be worn to a fancy dress ball in Thomasina's time. Regency Clothes symbolize high society and privilege. The dress not only links the two generations and time periods, but it reveals the hay day of the English aristocratic family. Chloe, Gus, and Valentine wear the outfits to have their pictures taken and dress for the annual dance. The dress reestablishes their power as a family and role in the community, seemingly diminished in modern times.

Primer

The Primer is the symbol of learning and academia. Thomasina is the first to use the primer, which once belonged to Septimus; however, at the conclusion of the play, Septimus has taken back his primer. Septimus's use of his the primer once again symbolizes his return to being a student; this time he is a student of Thomasina, who has surpassed his knowledge and teachings.

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