Scientific Theory in Arcadia, Curious & The Wasteland and related Narrative Devices

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mollybelle
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Mind map to organise ideas for English Literature A2 coursework

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Scientific Theory in Arcadia, Curious & The Wasteland and related Narrative Devices
1 Laws of Thermodynamics and Entropy Theory
1.1 Distinct loss of information as time passes from the past into the future: the letters Septimus burns.
1.2 Passing of time in The Wasteland: Distress and anxiety.
1.2.1 Steven Best and Douglas Kellner (1997) write that modern science “allowed human beings to gain more certainty in their knowledge of the world but at the cost of feeling comfortable or at home within it”
1.2.2 The poem portrays a world where the only thing that can stave off the misery of the current world in decay is memories of the better past, consistent with the concept of entropy in that the past will always have been better, more ordered
1.2.3 Eliot himself said that “the one thing that time is ever sure to bring about is loss” (as quoted in Gish, 1981, p. 57).
1.2.4 if every second increases disorder and brings the world closer to a state of maximum entropy, how are reminders that time is hurtling past to be received besides as death knells
1.2.5 starting with the word “April” (Line 1) and moving from spring to winter to summer and back to winter again in just 18 lines. There are references to times of day and units of time throughout the poem
1.2.6 references to times of day and units of time throughout the poem
1.2.7 A Game of Chess.”: “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME”
1.2.7.1 at the end becoming so frequent that Lil and the narrator are eventually unable to fit even a sentence between the cries. This can be read as a metaphor for how Eliot sees time’s passage influencing his world—he wants to focus on living his life, but the awareness that time is constantly ticking forward is not just in the back of his mind but instead intruding on his thoughts
1.3 Structure of novel as a narrative device, Christopher's life begins ordered, by his sense of order and set of rules, however it descends into Chaos with his mother's leaving and supposed death. This descent into chaos can arguably be said to be reminiscent of entropy theory. Similarly to Arcadia though, curious rights itself by depicting a coexistence between order and disorder, much likened to Chaos Theory. Narrative structure therefore follows very similarly to Arcadia showing transitions between the three theories, however without explicit discussion of these ideas, rather as a device to add to the plot.
1.4 In Arcadia, heat goes to cold, according to the laws of thermodynamics, and thinking "declines" to feeling as demonstrated by Hannah's character, however typically speaking emotion appears to offer more heat or passion than logic. Evidence of human unpredictability limiting the laws of thermodynamics and the unpredictable chaos evidenced in chaos theory.
2 Newton's Laws and a "Determined universe"
2.1 "The future is all programmed like a computer— that’s a proper theory, isn’t it?"
2.2 Fits well with how Christopher appears to think: always trying to attach a familiar order or rule to the things around him, to make them make sense.
2.2.1 Newton's laws incompatible with the real world, Christopher as he realises the application of his theories to the real world is limited, almost adopts a philosophy of life more similar to Chaos Theory which could be argued to allow for the personal growth and compatibility with the rest of the world which he achieves by the end of the novel.
2.3 "But the mind is just a complicated machine"
3 Chaos Theory
3.1 "Too much bloody noise" Valentine cannot predict the grouse because of the unpredictable extraenuous variables present in all aspects of life which creates the chaos which limits the extent of determinism. The coexistance of chaos and determinism which allows for free will and hope.
3.2 If the world were wholly determined to the extent that both other theories suggest, then Bernard theoretically could accurately have made the prediction that he did about Byron. As it is, there is too much background "noise" or unpredictability for this to be the case. His predictions, are as a result incorrect because he could not account for all factors. Much the same, we cannot make assumptions about the universe based on determined factors- like a decline to maximum entropy or that everything may be recovered- as we cannot predict and comprehend the unpredictable chaos.
3.3 Christopher is determined by the way that his mind function (aspergers/autism/neuroatypical) however he succeeds in coping with and overcoming aspects of such in order to achieve things no one thought possible e.g. getting the train to London- He is determined, but as Chaos theory suggests, there is also an amount of chaos or unpredictability which allows for this free will, rallying against his being psychologically determined.
3.4 Individualism almost requires Chaos Theory- Christopher has certain quirks, or his own "order and a plan" which seem illogical to a reader or those around him. These things can be seen from an outside perspective to be chaotic and nonsensical, e.g. cars predicting day, however to Christopher there is a determined order to things. This is comparable to a belief in religion or God- shown clearly in The Wasteland in almost the same way- where as humans we resort to illogical explanations for things, creating a kind of human unpredictability and chaos to overcome determinism (Christopher's neroatypicacy and the inevitability of death) *"I think people believe in heaven because they don't like the idea of dying, because they want to carry on living"*
3.5
3.6 Wiles suggests that as Yeats proposed history functioning in a gyre shape, Stoppard creates and alternative yet similar comparison to a fractal. Simultaneously he achieves to display the relationship between linear and cyclical time. In the closing scene, as Vees-Gulani (1999) notes, "the audience is allowed to see how close the paths of an attractor can get to crossing, but still always be only nearly the same. (p. 416)"
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