I rescind my earlier statement. The greatest limitation to WordHoard is not its user. It is definitely the fact that to get any results, you almost need to know exactly what you are looking for. This is problematic when you have a big, general question to ask and are trying to find smaller threads of thought to follow.
Luckily, I didn’t have a really big general question. My group and I started out by thinking of a general question from which we could each follow individual questions and then compile our results to answer the big question. Solid plan. If only it was that easy.
I’m exploring if/how Gertrude acts differently towards Hamlet when Polonius is in the scene vs when he’s dead. After tackling WordHoard until it submitted to my searches, I became quite hopeful about getting results. Before sitting down in front of my laptop, I compiled a list of words to search, thinking it would be easy. Type in the words, select gender, scene, etc to narrow down my search, get some good results, go to my group meeting this morning shining with pride at my achievements and masterment of WordHoard. Nope. Every word I had brainstormed about being helpful to find yielded no results. I became quite familiar with the “0 results” screen.
Okay, time to get creative. I started randomly messing around on WordHoard (clicking buttons and searching for things under the dropdown menus that I didn’t understand, such as the “xx”, “vv”, etc.). This also gave me zilch. Right. Got to start deeper thinking. I refuse to let this program stymie me.
How to see if Gertrude reacts to Hamlet differently? I could look for tone. Alright. How do I search for tone when WordHoard only searches words? I need positive and negative words. Yes, this makes sense. However, there are no really distinguishing words for being positive used in Shakespeare. But I can search “not”, and I did.
By comparing these results, I can tell that Gertrude is neither more or less negative before or after Polonius dies, as is Hamlet. So her son being a murderer does not send her into despair. Good that I’m finally getting somewhere with WordHoard, however this isn’t particularly helpful, as reading the text tells me much the same. Only here it is broken down into exact numbers.
On to another vein of thought. What happens when I search how many times someone says “Hamlet”? I get this:
Except for the highlighted line (said by the Ghost), Gertrude is the one saying “Hamlet”. So she says it five times. Not particularly great results on its own. But, WordHoard does provide context for every searched word. Now, looking at how Gertrude addresses Hamlet/ speaks to him around saying his name, there is a better idea of how she feels towards him. When Polonius is still alive, she questions him, as Polonius expects her to. After Hamlet kills him though, it is interesting to see that she refers to him as “sweet Hamlet” or “O, Hamlet!”. Not the words of a mother horrified about what her son has done, which corroborates my earlier findings with “not”. So far, so good. Also, to answer my question, there is a definite difference between how she treats him with Polonius in the room and with him dead. Without him in the room, she seems to be more openly affectionate with him. The question now is what type of affection? This is hopefully going to be answered by the corroboration of mine and my group members efforts.