Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Charles Edelman


This thesis investigates the various states of alienation that exist in the early plays of the British dramatist Tom Stoppard. By first defining alienation (and discussing the areas of contention which surround the concept), it proceeds to argue that whilst Stoppard has been greatly revered as a comic writer his works are equally consequential for their sensitivity and insight. They depict a prolificacy of characters who fail to assimilate with their society, can no longer relate to those around them and, as is often the case, reach for, but never manage to grasp a sense of their own identity. The diversity of emotional states that arise from such a condition will be discussed at length. In considering the plight of these characters, it will be necessary to also consider the nature of the societies in which they are embedded, and to ask where the true source of alienation arises. The societies portrayed by Stoppard are far-ranging: East and West, repressive and liberal, indeed, even meta-theatrical, yet they are unified by a common failure; the inability to engender a sense of real connection amongst their members. The impression we get with many of these early plays is that Stoppard's alienated protagonists are not facing an unusual predicament, rather they are indicative of man in a modern, atomised society-that they are, ironically, “in good company".