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Voyant is really neat! Playing around with the word cloud, I found that this tool showed me some things about the novel that were “hiding in plain sight.” For instance, the word cloud’s most prominent word, one I’d applied stopwords, was “said.” Perhaps it’s obvious, but seeing that massive word at the center of the cloud brought to light the way that dialogue is central to Pamela, which seems odd given that Pamela is a novel of letters. The two categories in the cloud which stood out to me were title words such as sir, Mr, Mrs, master, lady, gentleman, and madam; and “innate quality words,” such as good (most prominently), poor, happy, and honour, which occur with approximately equal frequency. Interestingly, master occurs with far greater frequency that mistress. Master is primarily used by Pamela to refer to the position of Mr. B as her social superior an employer. Mistress is not really just the female term for master; instead, it has a sexual connotation, and in Shamela, that connotation is made explicit when Mr. B offers for Sham to be his mistress: not an equal, but a kept woman.
This difference seems to uphold Armstrong’s argument that Pamela is able to tell a radical narrative of class difference by couching it in terms of gender difference. I thought that it might be instructive to look at words that describe people in both a classed and a gendered way – lady, gentleman, and gentlewoman – and see whether and how their frequency changed over the course of the book. I compared the frequency of a couple of words: gentleman, lady, virtue, and gentlewoman, over the course of the book.
Here is a comparison between the words gentleman and gentlewoman.
Gentleman consistently occurs with more frequency than gentlewoman, confirming what we already know, which is that the two main characters are a gentleman and someone who is not a gentlewoman. The results are similar for lady and gentleman (http:/
Voyant does not distinguish between Lady as part of a reference to a person’s name and title, as in Lady Davers, and lady as a social position, as in “if I had been born a lady,” which is perhaps a weakness of the tool or at least of this chart. However, scanning through the occurrences of the word lady, references to lady outside of a particular person’s title and name, references include “if I was a lady of birth” and “if I had been born a lady,” all wishful, conditional references.