Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Rita D. Jacobs

Committee Member

Daniel Bronson

Committee Member

Paul Butler


In both Travesties and The Real Thing, Tom Stoppard investigates the role of the artist in society and the connection of art to history, politics, reality, and emotion. Through his characters, Stoppard voices conflicting, but often equally credible, arguments regarding the various intersections of art with life to illustrate his contention that “there is no static viewpoint” of events (Chetta 133), in Stoppard’s own words: “There is no observer. There is no safe point around which everything takes its proper place, so that you see things flat and see how they relate to each other” (Hayman, Tom Stoppard 141).

Stoppard uses this investigation of art’s interconnectedness to human life to underscore the absolute necessity that art remain free of political manipulation. This contention arises from his belief that art is “the moral matrix, the moral sensibility from which we make our judgments about the world” (Jenkins 118), and thus must be unfettered. Since those judgments affect behavior towards others, individually, nationally, and globally, he strongly advocates discovery of “what is real” as regards politics, emotion, and history and demonstrates the nightmarish results of using art to serve a political agenda.

Stoppard’s style—the use of parody, repetition, debate, and pastiche— illustrates the difficulty in discerning reality from illusion, separating history from fiction, and limiting politics from saturating the everyday life of citizens. His underlying theme is that individuals must make their judgments about the world, each other, and crucial issues with benefit of intellect and with the understanding that perception is often faulty and always skewed.

File Format