Word seer and the Final Act of Hamlet: Continuing to Narrow the Focus (Phase Two, Blog Post Two)

In continuing to research the text of Hamlet, while employing my tool of expertise, word seer, I have aimed to establish any potential discrepancies or factors that render the fifth act, my group’s act of study, as more “tragic” than the other acts of the play, or otherwise, the only
truly “tragic” act, alone. The focus of my previous post was to fixate on the distinction between my own interpretations, attained through critical closed reading text analysis, and those of word seer’s, while now it is my intent to narrow my scope even further, in concentrating my efforts towards what qualities—both  quantitative and qualitative—define the fifth act of Hamlet as significant as a single entity. In other words, my exploration of the text, both through traditional reading and digital assessment, will be geared towards uncovering clues or evidence to suggest how act five both differs from, and unifies the rest of the play, at the same time. Therefore, I will focus less on the digital tools and how they operate, and more so on the results they return, and how they may be implemented to suggest new conclusions and avenues for research.

My first objective was to segregate act five from the rest of the play, using word seer, and upon further learning how to do this, I will thus evaluate (using the functions of word seer) the comparison between act five, and the rest of the play. This will be my preliminary assessment, and I anticipate that I will have a sufficient indication of what words in act five will outweigh others used throughout the text, which could serve to exemplify certain trends worthy of further investigation, such as increased frequencies in one word that could potentially suggest the development of a motif that pertains to either the plot, theme, conflict, or tone of the text—all valuable quantitative fixtures with the
potential to support or discredit qualitative hypotheses. However, while I am still in the process of determining how to compare the whole play to act five alone, out of respect for the deadline of this post, I concentrated my efforts more towards seeing what I would be able to uncover from a word frequency analysis of the fifth act, alone. Therefore, my first order of business was to expand upon what I began in my last post, which was inputting the words, “soul”, “duty”, “life”, and “death”—words that I feel pertain to a revenge tragedy. last time, however, I was unable to isolate just the fifth act of Hamlet, and therefore was only able to observe how these words were concentrated throughout the entire play; now I am
able to determine their significance within my sphere of study—a large leap forward, in my estimation. The results of my search are featured below.

To my surprise, these words occurred in a relatively sparse concentration, thus, prompting me to consider alternatives in characterizing the theme of the text. I am pleased to comment, as a side note, that now that I am able to work with the fifth act, alone, I am more comfortable, and may be more efficiently discriminative in my research. Therefore, in response to my unexpected results, I felt obligated to try the same assessment once more, this time using the words “die”, “fall”, “revenge”, and “damned”, all words that may also be implemented to characterize both the theme and mood of Hamlet(this procedure is featured below).

Again, much to my surprise, these new inputted words demonstrated similar effects to the first set of words I worked with, although, to an even greater degree. What was most striking is the fact that the word “revenge” is only featured once throughout the entire final act of the play, which leads me to further infer that often the words most frequently associated with a text may not be the most appropriate or commonly recurring. Such changes in word frequencies, as my group colleague Stephanie explored in her blog post—in which she discovered that Hamlet’s motivation for revenge appears to wane towards the end of the text(as he refers to his father less and less)—may be used to raise new qualitative questions such as, “what is really is the number one thing on Hamlet’s mind as he nears his final confrontation with his uncle Claudius?” Stephanie’s work may be observed here: http://engl203.ucalgaryblogs.ca/2012/03/16/a-start-on-act-5/

Therefore, what I was able to obtain from these two assessments was a reaffirmation of my previous theory that, when considering text analysis, digital methods must be examined through a critical scope, while still serving as effective in shattering perhaps invalid preconceptions, such as how I initially believed that words such as the ones that I inputted were infallible in characterizing the themes of the text, whereas, I now recognize that I can employ word seer in a trial and error process of inputting new words that I think of in order to determine which ones could be implemented more effectively in describing the text as a whole, and more specifically, act five. Therefore, I will continue along with this inductive process, in aspiration of uncovering a new, insightful conclusion about both which words best define the fifth act, and what defines
the fifth act as a significant unit on its own, from a perspective of word frequency and usage. Essentially, I feel that the discovery of how to isolate
the act in word seer will greatly facilitate my research process, and I am quite pleased with it, to date, and will therefore continue to explore its
benefits as well as my new findings in my next blog post. In other words, I have narrowed the scope in this account more so than my previous post, and I attend to narrow it even further in using word seer, now that I am becoming more familiar with its functions.

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