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Themes

One of Arcadia's characters calls sex "the attraction that Newton left out" (2.7), and she may not be so far off. Sex in Arcadia is an irrational force, bringing characters together and splitting them apart according to its own unscientific rules, with hilarious or tragic results. By frequently linking sex and science only to emphasize the ways in which they don't fit together, Arcadia suggests that a purely scientific world view is inadequate for explaining the full, crazy range of human behavior.

Questions About Sex

  1. What kind of language does the play use to talk about sex? What kinds of metaphors and allusions surround sex in the play?
  2. Do the characters tend to have different ideas about sex based on their gender? In what ways?
  3. Do the nineteenth-century characters think about sex in a different way from the present-day characters? If so, how?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Through linking sex and science, Arcadia suggests that all human knowledge has an emotional component.

In calling sex "the attraction that Newton left out" (2.7), the play argues for maintaining an awareness of the human element in fields that are supposedly objective (like science).

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