Action Words in Relation to Relationships

Alright, last blog post, but still a couple more group meetings until the presentation. This is probably good, considering the amount of work my group has yet to do. Now that we’ve solidified what each member is doing, it’s up to us to do it. This stage is very interconnected for us, as we’ve decided to work very collaboratively. No that Katy’s given me, Hannah and Ayesha her findings of most frequent words spoken by each character, we are finding which of them are most relevant. Hannah and I are both working on finding the most useful in context words each character speaks, and comparing them to characters in other Shakespeare tragedies. Ayesha is going to to then look at the words as they are used in each scene for act 4 and see the correlation between mine and Hannah’s findings and her own. Hannah and I are dividing up the work because it was a lot for me to do, but there will be some small discrepancies because WordHoard finds lemmas, not exactly specific words. This gives WordHoard a slight advantage when finding how relevant certain words are.

To start my portion of the assignment, I took the list of most frequent words (provided by Katy and Kira’s collaboration) and searched on the most active words. I chose to look up words such as: death, revenge, I’ll, come, stand, gone, shall, away, etc. I omitted words like: lord, father, blood, sister, daughter, saint, king, etc. By searching mostly verbs or words associated with actions and leaving out relationship describing words, I not only narrowed down my search, but also was able to get a better idea of relationships through context. After searching the action words and clicking to view context, I could better see how characters act in relation to others.

So far, I have investigated Laertes and Ophelia. For Laertes, I searched: death, revenge, I’ll, come, stand. Apparently WordHoard doesn’t like contractions, because it refused to find “I’ll”. When I searched the other words, I noticed an interesting trend. The four words I searched (come, stand, revenge, death) were all said by Laertes to the king at least once. Two of the words were said exclusively to the king:

Of the other two words, Laertes used the word “revenge” when talking to Ophelia and “stand” when talking to the Danes. The other times he said these words, it was to the king.

From this evidence, I can draw the conclusion that Laertes and the king have a very close relationship, almost like a substitute father-son relationship. I’m going to be exploring this relationship more in depth once I have searched up Claudius’ action words to see if there is a similar correlation and what conclusions can be drawn.

In regard to Ophelia, I searched: gone, pray, rue. Well, WordHoard doesn’t like the word “gone”. First, When I clicked “complete” after lemma, it changed my word “gone” into “Goneril” (who is a character from “Twelfth Night”).

After retyping in “gone” and adding “(v)” after it to mimic what the complete function usually does, I got this message:

This was mildly frustrating, as I knew the word “gone” did appear. Then I remembered the WordHoard searches lemmas, and tried the word “go” instead.

There we go, much better. The rest of the searches were easy, and I got the following results:

When I look at these results, I notice two things. First, while I identified “pray” as an action word, every time Ophelia says it, her context is not really active or helpful. Second, all Ophelia’s actions words are spoken in act 4, scene 5, and not later when she talks to her brother, who does use an action word when speaking with her. This strikes me because, going back to her suicide again, she does not appear to be particularly active right before dying, an interesting detail when committing suicide is an action.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now, but it’s a pretty good place to start. From here I will look up Claudius’ most frequent action words and then compare the three characters to each other and to outside characters. I’m especially interested to see how Ophelia and Lady Macbeth compare, given they both “commit suicide” right before the end and off stage. Also, I think comparing Laertes and Claudius’ relationship to the one between Iago and Othello will also produce something of note.



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