MONK’s “Tragic” Words: A continuation

As a continuation of my last post

In my attempt to discover words that may participate in MONK’s classification of Act V as more tragic, I found myself being led in another direction of attempting to figure out why MONK insisted on classifying Hamlet as a ‘half-tragedy’ in comparison to the other words. My discoveries in individual word frequencies were interesting, as it would seem that they would contradict the ‘half-tragedy’ classification that MONK previously made. In other words, MONK seems to have contradicted itself.

In comparing the tragedies to all of Shakespeare’s plays, MONK has returned me with the following data:


The first verb that MONK provided on the list as appear most frequent in the tragedies in comparison to the rest of Shakespeare’s plays, was “swear.”

Upon selecting the word to see the break down of frequencies, I was provided with the following information:

“Swear,” as it appears in all of Shakespeare’s tragedies, appears most frequently in Hamlet.



To satisfy my own curiosity, I scrolled further down the list and selected a word that seemed less likely to appear in a tragedy, but still one I did not remember reading that frequently when I did my own reading of the Hamlet text. Selecting ‘smile,’ I was provided with the following chart:

In terms of the number of times the word “smile” appears in the tragedies, it appears most frequently in Hamlet.


I assure you, this pattern remains consistent throughout the list of frequencies that MONK has provided me.

I remain uncertain of if these results are being affected by the glitches and malfunctions that MONK has been experiencing as of late, but this does raise an interesting question:

If MONK’s data hasn’t been affected by its recent problems, where does this leave us with understanding Hamlet as being classified as a tragedy? 

If the words being provided by MONK as most frequently occurring in Shakespeare’s tragedies in comparison to the rest of his plays all appear most frequent in Hamlet, why is it then, that Hamlet is the play that is most frequently classified only as a ‘half-tragedy?’

This is a question that is beyond MONK or my own understanding to fully grasp, and so, it is my hope that the tools of my group members can take this information and further analyze it to bring us closer to an understanding of what this all means for Hamlet as a whole.

Perhaps it is not these tragic words that can be the basis for our classification of Hamlet as a tragedy. Perhaps we must take the comedic words used in Hamlet to understand why MONK refuses to accept it fully as a tragedy?

These are all questions I hope to have answered in my next blog post, as I believe that these answers will guide me to an interesting discovery about Act V in relation to Hamlet as a whole.




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