Everyone in the play seems to be in love with someone else, or at least sexually attracted to someone else. Septimus loves Lady Croom and later Thomasina. Bernard gets with Chloe, but also wants to get with Hannah. Valentine calls Hannah his fiancée. Gus also seems to have a crush on Hannah. The play begins and ends on the themes of sex and love—ending with Septimus and Thomasina’s kisses, and Gus and Hannah’s dance, and beginning with Thomasina trying to get Septimus to explain what “carnal embrace” means.
Sex and love are also tied to the play’s larger concerns with knowledge, beauty, and death. The play takes both sex and love seriously, never disdaining the characters’ urges, but demonstrating how sex and love can be ways to explore what it means to know another person. Further, sex, because of its procreative properties and unique pleasures, ties into the play’s interest in death and how to transcend it.
But sex and love in the play have even farther-ranging connections—Stoppard links each theme in a complex web. Sex and love also connect to nature, and even to the conflict/contrast between Romanticism and the Enlightenment. Here, after all, are all these scholars engaging in intense intellectual pursuits, but there are physical and emotional longings that also drive them, that are intertwined with their other pursuits and inescapable. They are minds and bodies.
Sex and Love ThemeTracker
Sex and Love Quotes in Arcadia
Thomasina: Tell me more about sexual congress.
Septimus: There is nothing more to be said about sexual congress.
Thomasina: Is it the same as love?
Septimus: Oh no, it is much nicer than that.