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Arcadia

Summary

Scene Two

Summary Scene Two

Nonetheless, both societies and peoples are seeking themselves and the knowledge of the future and present. The play doubles time and characters to reveal constant truths between past and present. Valentine, the son of the absent modern Crooms and math scholar lacking significant discovery is paired with Septimus Hodge, former scholar and hermit of Sidley Park who works equally hard with similarly little result. The two share identical turtles, Plautus and Lightning, that have the same identity and value to their owners. Like the identical turtle props or taxidermy, the actor of Gus and Augustus Coverly is the same. The young boy of both generations has changed little, besides the fact that Gus is mute, while Augustus is tirelessly loud.

Thomasina and Chloe are another pair. The "action of bodies in heat" argued for by Thomasina manifests in Chloe's complete concern with the heat and seduction of Bernard. Like Thomasina's discovery of the second law of thermodynamics, Chloe adds her own idea to the mix: sex is the ultimate argument against determinism. Chloe believes that the randomness of sexual attraction keeps the world from a deterministic end. Like her counterpart, Thomasina, Chloe asks if she is the "first person to think of this." Valentine, like Septimus, replies to her enthusiasm with a probable "yes." The ultimate proof to the random nature of bodies in heat exists in Thomasina's generation with the character of Mrs. Chater—a woman obsessed with making heat with anyone at anytime. Chloe seems to know the proof of her idea by her own actions and attraction to the foppish scholar, Bernard. The second law of thermodynamics, while possibly not fully understood by either girl, is simultaneously an answer and a dilemma to the question of self for the girls;one cannot predict the random actions of people or themselves. The death of Thomasina by fire is certainly symbolic of this truth.

Strangely enough, the modern tale, besides the presence of Chloe, is much lacking in heat, which may explain the lack of introspection by either Bernard or Hannah. Hannah, like Thomasina, distinguishes and separates love from academic progress. Hannah continually denies and refuses love or affection from Valentine or Bernard. Bernard, while failing to understand academic or real truth, has a good understanding of self. Bernard suggests to Hannah that, if she had understood herself better, she would have not written her first book about Caroline Lamb. Chloe, who seems to understand herself better than either Hannah or Bernard, turns psychologist to Hannah, saying, "You've been deeply wounded in the past, haven't you?"

The law of the amorous Mrs. Chater rules the ability for one to find self- knowledge within Arcadia. In the past and in the present, if one cannot understand the randomness of love and canal knowledge, he or she will certainly fail to understand him or herself.