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Individual(s), individualism, and the world of chaos and order : a study of Tom Stoppard's works

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:37 authored by Tae Woo. Kim
In the early works, typically in Rosencrantz and Guildenstem Are Dead and Lord Malquist and Mr Moon. Stoppard presents modem man's desperate efforts to find meanings in his lives and the world, on the one hand, and the agonizing process of an aspiring writer trying to establish his own identity as a creative writer, on the other. In spite of their instinctive and intuitive belief in the order of the world, however, the early protagonists are unredeemably entrapped in chaos, and end up in ignominious deaths. After the spectacular success of Rosencrantz and Guildenstem Are Dead, the tone of Stoppard's works changed in a significant, if almost imperceptible, way. The frustration and helplessness which permeate his earlier works almost disappeared. More significantly, Stoppard deliberately tried to expound and defend his own ideas on such fundamental issues as morality and art in Jumpers and Travesties, respectively, and the ideas have basically remained the same throughout his whole career. After Travesties there took place more explicit changes in style and subject in Stoppard's works which marked Stoppard's so-called political theatre. The works of this period can best be explained as occasional and transitional, and, it is through these political works that Stoppard's individualist ethic found its most clear-cut expression. The Real Thing signals a new, maturer era of Stoppardian theatre. Stoppard almost for the first time furnished the stage with fully fleshed-out characters not only in terms of the protagonist but down to every and each minor character. Ideas are not simply presented as preconceived, but unfold themselves to the final conclusion through dramatic actions and conflicts. Love, a rare theme in the Stoppardian theatre until then, finally takes centre stage as "the real thing", and is presented in such a way that only through love is a real union possible between the people (individuals). Arcadia is the closest to Stoppard's dramatic ideal of "the perfect marriage between ideas and high comedy".


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University of Leicester

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  • Doctoral

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  • PhD



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