Phase two, phase two! Yay! Alright, I’m already pretty excited about this. For one, my group is awesome! We all showed up for our first meeting, and are in agreement about how everything should be handled during this assignment. The only disappointing thing about this is it means that I don’t think anyone will be punished into buying coffee for everyone else. I am always up for free coffee. But it’s good that I’m confident everyone will be participating fully. Also, for this phase, I’m excited to finally get to use WordHoard in conjunction with other tools- this can only yeild better results.
What I’m not too happy about is that this blog post is due tonight. Because of work and school, I don’t have time tonight to really explore act 4 with WordHoard. (I am in fact writing this blog between school and work right now). What our group decided to do was to reread act 4 and try to draw some conclusions about it or a specific aspect of it on our own. With only our brains! And once we have these ideas formed, we are going to put them into our programs and see if they give us the same results or different. Everyone will have done this for our next group meeting so we can discuss how it’s going and share ideas about which tools should be used in which order to explore which aspect. It sounds a little complicated and roundabout, but this seems like the best idea to get us started- seeing as how we aren’t sure about the other tools yet.
Because- as I mentioned earlier- this post it due tonight and I’m pressed for time, I haven’t actually started exploring act 4 with WrodHoard. I’m really sorry about this, but during my break earlier today I was feverishly studying for a midterm this afternoon. But I have gone over act 4 with my brainpower and I have formed some conclusions.
There is a lot going on in act 4. I could tell you, but that would be rather redundant, as I’m sure you’ve read it before. Did you notice, however, that almost every character makes an appearance somewhere in act 4. except the ghost. This is curious, and I could explore this, except that I don’t really know where to go other than harp on about the question of how mad Hamlet is. No, I want to focus on something else. Ophelia. She’s rather interesting in act 4. She talks to Gertrude and her brother, but not Hamlet. She appears as mad, and then dies. Alright, this is something.
I don’t want to question whether she is mad- I want to see if I can determine if she alludes to committing suicide anywhere in the act, prior to dying. When she first comes in, she is singing a song about her father’s death, but then quickly switches to one about a girl spurned by a man she wanted to marry after she slept with him out of wedlock in an attempt to keep him. Did this happen between her and Hamlet? In any case, as soon as she’s done the song, she seems quite in control of herself and says “I hope all will be well.” (4, 5, 68), not implicating that she intends to kill herself, rather- so it seems to me- saying she will get over her father’s death with her brother’s help. At the end of the same scene (act 4, scene 5), Ophelia enters again, back to being upset at her father’s death. This time she ends with a “good buy you” (4, 5, 192), which could point to her saying a permanent goodbye to her brother, but doesn’t particularly feel like one as it lacks a certain emotion I would expect her to exhibit. After becoming so distraught with her father’s death, I would expect Ophelia to also be distraught at her own coming death and to have been more communicative with her brother. At this instance, she seems to flit into the scene, then flit out just as quickly. She never come again. We learn of her death through Gertrude, who tells us she has committed suicide, and who everyone takes at her word. This is suspicious to me because: a) if Gertrude witnessed what she said she did (Ophelia singing while drowning herself) why didn’t Gertrude try to save her or intervene in some way? and b) the king and Laertes both believe her without asking questions.
I think there may be something more happening behind the scenes here. After Ophelia leaves from her first appearance, the king and Gertrude discuss her, and it seems to me like the king is pretty much telling Gertrude it would be better for everyone if Ophelia wasn’t around anymore. This is quite interesting. I’ve rambled on quite a bit now, and I really have to get going, but I know where my searching is headed now. I’m going to use WordHoard to explore if there is sufficient evidence to assume Gertrude killed Ophelia under the king’s orders or not. I’m really hopeful about what my search can reveal- especially because the whole host of characters present will make the traits and tendencies of each character able to be compared to each other and more easily verified than if few were present. This will give me better evidence to suggest whether or not Ophelia was suicidal and whether or not the king wanted her dead.