A Postmodernist Reading of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia

Noorbakhsh Hooti, Samaneh Shooshtarian


This study tries to analyze the theories of postmodernist literature in Arcadia, a play by Tom Stoppard. Arcadia is a play that shares both modernist and postmodernist features. However, Stoppard's use of multiple perspectives, parodic echoing; seeming instability and, his mixing of theatrical and intellectual ideas lead some critics more confident to label the work "postmodern". In postmodern theatre, nothing is absolute or eternal; nothing is exempt for skepticism and all meanings and values are historically conditioned. The way in which Stoppard's Arcadia may be seen as a postmodernist play is, perhaps, in using the criteria of how one responds to the intellectual uncertainty in the world. According to Wilde: "Postmodernists are characterized by a willingness to live with uncertainty, to tolerate and, in some cases, to welcome a world seen as random and multiple, even, at times absurd" (1987:44), and this is the way Arcadia's characters can be best described. In fact, with a combination of comedy and tragedy and the discussion of serious ideas involving different disciplines of art and science, using them as modes of representation in his mixing of past and present to show how the past affects the present and, how the present interprets the past, Stoppard's Arcadia, as a postmodernist dramatic achievement, is able to bring together a wide variety of literary and scientific notions in a postmodern world. Key Words: Arcadia; Postmodernist literature; grand narrative; pastiche; deconstruction; binary oppositions

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968%2Fj.sll.1923156320100107.002


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