by Tom Stoppard
Arcadia Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene)
Lady Croom: But Sidley Park is already a picture, and a most amiable picture too. The slopes are green and gentle. The trees are companionably grouped at intervals that show them to advantage. The rill is a serpentine ribbon unwound from the lake peaceably contained by meadows on which the right amount of sheep are tastefully arranged – in short, it is nature as God intended, and I can say with the painter, "Et in Arcadia ego!" "Here I am in Arcadia," Thomasina. (1.1)
It's hard to tell whether Lady Croom is being ironic on purpose here – does she really think that the best nature gets some human help in its design, or is she dividing the Godly classical landscaping from Mr. Noakes's Satanic inventions?
Bernard: Lovely. The real England.
Hannah: You can stop being silly now, Bernard. English landscape was invented by gardeners imitating foreign painters who were evoking classical authors. The whole thing was brought home in the luggage from the grand tour. Here, look – Capability Brown doing Claude, who was doing Virgil. Arcadia! And here, superimposed by Richard Noakes, untamed nature in the style of Salvator Rosa. It's the Gothic novel expressed in landscape. Everything but vampires. (1.2)
Hannah points out that both the classical and the Gothic landscapes are ultimately literary in origin – not too surprising, since she's a scholar working on landscape and literature. Her comment raises the interesting point of how far afield literature can permeate into a culture (how many tweens today are wearing fashions inspired by Twilight?). And if everyone's just imitating someone else, is there any hope for originality?
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)
So far the play has mostly treated the landscape as an accessory for humans, so it's intriguing that the relation can work the other way. Perhaps particular kinds of landscapes can create particular kinds of people, as well as vice versa?