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Tom Stoppard’s Hapgood: Quantum Mechanics on Stage

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2014, 27(3), pp.107-129
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

KIM,TAI-WOO 1

1국민대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

apgood is unique in that it attempts to introduce and explain on stage the basic concepts of quantum mechanics. Its failure, however, was in a way anticipated. The world of particles is so extraordinary to the extent that it goes beyond our imagination, and it seems virtually impossible to weave a convincing plot around the ideas of quantum mechanics. Even so, Stoppard showed his ingenuity by making the play a spy thriller with double spies and twin spies in it. Stoppard’s attempt to introduce quantum mechanics to people demonstrates that he must have thought certain aspects of quantum mechanics should not go unnoticed. Without quantum mechanics Hapgood would remain a rather forced spy thriller piece, and therefore it makes an important part of interpreting Hapgood to examine what is Stoppard’s intention of introducing quantum mechanics through a drama. Certain basic concepts of quantum mechanics cannot be explained in terms of classical physics, and the uncertainty principle among others has become a formative idea of the postmodern era from the mid-20th century onward. However, it does not seem appropriate that Stoppard is the champion of those concepts of relativism, probability and uncertainty derived from quantum mechanics. It is because Hapgood itself is not so innovative a play in style and Stoppard’s coherent position since his early days as a dramatist is not completely in accordance with those concepts. What is called the quantum mystery has not yet been successfully proved, and therefore an indiscreet application of some concepts of quantum mechanics to the macroworld will cause confusion and misunderstanding. Yet, the microworld of quantum mechanics is without doubt part of realities, so that we have to consider the microworld of quantum mechanics to reach a true understanding of the world we live in. That will be in the ultimate sense the significance of quantum mechanics in Hapgood.

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