by Tom Stoppard
Arcadia Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene)
Hannah: The hermit was placed in the landscape exactly as one might place a pottery gnome. And there he lived out his life as a garden ornament. (1.2)
And for some people, even the illusion of free will breaks down – especially if you're from the lower classes and have to do what your bosses tell you. Hannah's observation reminds us that this whole fate vs. free will debate takes place not just within individuals, but in the context of larger society – and some people are determined to mess with the free will of others.
Thomasina: She is vexed with papa for his determination to alter the park, but that alone cannot account for her politeness to a guest. (1.3)
Thomasina's line reminds us of the double meaning of "determination" – it can be the opposite of free will, but it can also mean sticking to your guns against all obstacles.
Valentine: the details change, you can't keep tabs on everything, it's not nature in a box. But it isn't necessary to know the details. When they are all put together it turns out the population is obeying a mathematical rule.
Hannah: The goldfish are?
Valentine: Yes. No. The numbers. It's not about the behaviour of fish. It's about the behaviour of numbers. (1.4)
Valentine gives more details about how determination (in the fate sense) doesn't necessarily mean that any particular individual feels forced to do particular things. What might be called "fate" is really a combination of environmental factors – which, potentially, can change, altering everyone's fate.