Marry, this’ miching malicho; it means mischief.

This is easily one of my favourite lines in any Shakespeare play. Why? Because the words befit the meaning in a style that is all their own. And I cannot hlp but thinking that is Shakespeare himself knew that twenty-five young adults were set free with the power of technology to analyze his plays, he might think that a mischief all its own.
In our own little sect of madness we got off to a bumpy start. We were all “masters” of our respective programs, but how do we compare them? How can we link each advantage and rate the,. How many of the tools overlap in use? And what becomes overshadowed by a newer, better tool?
Most of all, how can we find out?
We needed a common ground. Something inside Hamlet that every person can indentify. Which is of course madness, something every hard-working university student has met with at least once, but besides all that it is a theme within Hamlet that everyone will decipher differently. Is he sane and acting? Is he crazy from the start? Is he driven mad by his own efforts? Hamlet will always be a mystery so long as space-time continues.

Where we are now:
Since we had a goal in mind, we were able to find the means. Within different programs frequency searches, Naive Bayes, concordance searches, “described as” searches have all proved useful. We are able to track down suggestive words through Naive Bayes, and then put them into other searches to divine meanings. The other cool thing that we have been finding is the ability to compare Hamlet to other Shakespeare tragedies. “Madness” appears in Hamlet 22 times! The next most frequent is probably Romeo and Juliet at 11 times. That is a huge jump. So we know that Hamlet is focused on madness, now we just need to find subtle hints, recurring themes and general meanings that can help to indicate the true madness of Hamlet, or the play he puts on for everyone.

The uniqueness of our Act has been comig out slowly as well. We know (not necessarily because of the digital humanities) that our Act contains much of the most important action in the play. The “To Be or Not To Be,” speach appears, as well as “Get thee to a nunnery,” the play performed for Claudius, the confrontation of Gertrude, the murder of Polonius, etc! There is simply a ton of stuff to research and a lot to discover.
Most importantly for next time we must study:
The use of “poison in the ear” as a metaphor.
Any reference to the mind such as:

Every instance that describes a character as “mad.”
And really anything else we can think of.
So that is about it for past 1 of Phase 2. We have a strong Act 3 team, with only a few hiccups,and some illness 🙁 and hopefully there will be more success to report on the next post. Right now there are just to many questions! It’s pretty amazing what we can do though. What has taken minutes on MONK or voyeur, etc, would have taken months in the traditional way. Could you imagine going through every Shakespeare tragedy and noting the use of the words: “mad” or “madness?” It sounds crazy, and yet that is what the creators of these programs have done for us. We are grateful 🙂

One thought on “Marry, this’ miching malicho; it means mischief.

  1. Originally, back during our tutorials I didn’t think much of these tools. I had so many questions like “how could these tools even further my understanding of Hamlet?” or “why use tools when you can manually do it?”. It wasn’t until I actually had to manually edit my file, read through my corpus in search of words, AND copy and paste various quotes from characters into my word document, that I really realized what these tools are actually doing for me. In other words, YES, we are so very grateful. These tools have increased my learning process and understanding of Hamlet to an entire new level. I am so fascinated 🙂

    I think though, since act 3 is such an action packed act, that there is no way we can be expected to cover it in its entirety. Unfortunately, today was a day of sudden realizations for me within our act,but we do not have time to explore these concepts much further. Before Wednesday, I think we should all take another close look at analyzing Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” speech. The power and his choice of words is something that I’ve started to notice. Most of his words are not to be taken at face value (for example sleep and die) and also it is interested to question why Hamlet chooses such rich/ strong words when he is speaking alone?


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