Throughout the course of this post, it is my intention to explore the relationship between my interpretations of the text of Hamlet acquired
through traditional text analysis and my closed reading of the text, and the interpretations drawn from employing my tool of expertise, word seer, to critically analyzing certain fragments, in this case, a single act of the play. I will then highlight how these two approaches compare to one another, and pose further questions as to how this comparison may be capitalized upon in order to generate new conclusions or insightful observations.Â I would first like to express that I have always been sceptical of classifying Hamlet asÂ a conventionalÂ tragedy, as the protagonist Hamlet deviates from the characteristic traits of the tragic hero, and commits no apparent â€œmistaken actâ€, and the majority of action does not culminate until the bloodbath of act five, coincidentally, the act I have been assigned to study. Therefore, my interpretation of this act can largely be characterized by the observation that it alone defines this iconic play as the tragedy it has come to be widely recognized as. Without summarizing the plot of the text, it is evident that the catastrophe and other defining aspects of Aristotleâ€™s conceptions of the genre
of tragedy are reserved almost exclusively for act five, as Hamlet and a series of characters surrounding him, including the villainous king Claudius who he seeks to exact a vendetta upon, face their untimely demise. So what does this mean to my interpretation? Death, death, death. Futility, futility, futility. Basically, I believe that the bard is trying to express to us a message that revenge only manifests as death, and highlights the futility of life the struggle associated with it. My interpretation is one among many, however, of course. Even as superficial a source as Wikipedia recognizes a multitude of proposed and perceived contexts and themes that the text carries. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamlet#Context_and_interpretation
Now, this interpretation is just fine, on a superficial, redundant, basis. However, when we seek to uncover new insights and avenues for exploration that have rarely been embarked on, it is also effective to employ tools such as word seer to aid in identifying new trends.
So, how would I gauge word seerâ€™s interpretation of act five of Hamlet, and, in turn, compare it with my own? In considering the advantages of word seer that my group outlined during phase one of our team assignments, I felt obliged to plug in some words, pertaining to act five in particular, that I felt could be conducive to word seerâ€™s processing. Simple enough, right? However, this was not the case; incidentally, I was unable to segregate the fifth act of Hamlet alone(a task I will fixate on more as my research progresses), therefore, I felt it fitting to exhaust the next best alternative, in examining the entire text again using word seer, in order to apply it more broadly to my interpretations of act five, alone. I must comment, of course, that this may be an instance in which another tool, such as voyeur and its image qualities, could well supplement word seerâ€™s shortcomings. Regardless, I decided to employ words that I feel characterize the themes of Hamlet, and proceeded to observe the concentration of them throughout the text, paying particular attention to the words that more frequently occur towards the end of the text, that being, act five. In this case, I searched â€œdeathâ€(as a fundamental), â€œlifeâ€, â€œdutyâ€, and â€œsoulâ€, in order to observe whether or not they appeared heavily towards the text. (These results are pictured below). However, what I was surprised to find was that these words, which all carry emphasis within the â€œrevengeâ€ tragedy, were dispersed throughout the entire text, and did not exceptionally exceed their counterparts near the end of the play.
What exactly did I make of this? Ironically, this interpretation provided by word seer, identifying that none of these words completely define the text in frequency, contrasts to my own closed reading and textual analysis interpretations in demonstrating that words themselves do not necessarily develop into a coherent indicator of theme. Therefore, I am intrigued towards studying speech patterns and speaker frequencies in order to expand my perspective regarding interpreting Hamlet, a process which, I will conclude, could be better achieved by other tools.
Before giving up on my previously advocated frequent words constituting theme theory, I intend, one last time, to compare â€œdeathâ€ and â€œhonourâ€ with the other texts in the Shakespeare corpus, in order to see if the frequency exceeds the other texts, perhaps suggesting that Hamlet is founded more on characters, speeches, and themes that favour these words. For now, however, I will reiterate the relationship, and comparison, between my interpretations of Hamlet, and those suggested by my findings in word seer.
It would be an exaggeration to suggest that the two interpretations I worked with were at dueling odds with one another. While word seerâ€™s findings didnâ€™t exactly support my interpretations, (the results would have verified my interpretations were they to contain a higher concentration of the inputted words near the end of the play) they certainly aided me in recognizing that interpretations and perspectives should not be taken at face value, in that, words that are suspected to occur frequently do not constitute the theme of text. Therefore, while my interpretations are geared more towards my closed reading, the word seer interpretations helped me to be aware of leaning towards
one theory or conclusion without considering varying alternatives, and this is the ultimate underlying relationship between what I found and suspected, and what word seer supplemented it with.Â In my next post, I will further explore this relationship, in using more detailed
approaches with more specific functions of word seer, and perhaps even other tools that my new group members specialize in, in narrowing down my search more successfully to act five alone. However, this being said, no one is a complete expert, and one of the fundamental values in research is to adapt and learn as one progresses, and that is what I intend to do.