From: Stoppard, T. (1993). Arcadia. London, Faber and Faber.


THOMASINA COVERLY, aged thirteen

SEPTIMUS HODGE, her tutor, aged twenty-two

RICHARD NOAKES, a landscape architect, middle-aged

VALENTINE COVERLY, aged twenty five to thirty (a scientist)

HANNAH JARVIS, an author, late thirties

THOMASINA: When you stir your rice pudding, Septimus, the spoonful of jam spreads itself round making red trails like the picture of a meteor in my astronomical atlas. But if you stir backward, the jam will not come together again. Indeed, the pudding does not notice and continues to turn pink just as before. Do you think this is odd?


THOMASINA: Well, I do. You cannot stir things apart.


VALENTINE: Listen – you know your tea’s getting cold.

HANNAH: I like it cold.

VALENTINE: (Ignoring that) I’m telling you something. Your tea gets cold by itself, it doesn’t get hot by itself. Do you think that’s odd?


VALENTINE: Well, it is odd. Heat goes to cold. It’s a one-way street. Your tea will end up at room temperature. What’s happening to your tea is happening to everything everywhere. The sun and the starts. It’ll take a whle but we’re all going to end up at room temperature….


THOMASINA: Mr Noaks – bad news from Paris!

NOAKES: Is it the Emperor Napoleon?

THOMASINA: No (She tears the page off her drawing block, with her ‘diagram on it.) It concerns your heat engine. Improve it as you will, you can never get out of it what you put in. It repays eleven pence in the shilling at most.

….(SEPTIMUS retrieves his book from THOMASINA. He turns the pages, and also continues to study Thomasina’s diagram)

SEPTIMUS: Why does it mean Mr. Noakes’s engine pays eleven pence in the shilling? Where does he say it?

THOMASINA: Nowhere. I noticed it by the way. I cannot remember now.

THOMASINA: Oh … yes. Newton’s equations go forwards and backwards, the do not care which way. But the heat equation cares very much, it goes only one way. That is the reason Mr Noakes’ s engine cannot give the power to drive Mr. Noakes’s engine.

SEPTIMUS: Everybody knows that.

THOMASINA: Yes, Septimus, they know it about engines!


(VALENTINE studies the diagram)

VALENTINE: It’s heat.

VALENTINE: Like a steam engine, you see – She didn’t have the maths, not remotely. She saw what this meant, way ahead, like seeing a picture.

VALENTINE: Like a film.

HANNAH: What did she see?

VALENTINE: That you can’t run the film backwards. Heat was the fist think which didn’t work that way. Not like Newton. A film of a pendulum, or a ball falling through the air – backwards, it looks the same.

HANNAH: The ball would be going the wrong way.

VALENTINE: You’d hav e to know that. But with heat – friction – a ball breaking a window –


VALENTINE: It won’t work backwards.

HANNAH: Who thought it did?

VALENTINE: She saw why. You can put back the bits of glass but you can’t collect up the heat of the smash. It’s gone.


VALENTINE: The heat goes into the mix. (He gestures to indicate the air in the room, in the universe.)


VALENTINE: And everything is mixing the same way, all the time, irreversibly….


VALENTINE: till there’s no time left. That’s what time means.