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Assignment 3

3 min read

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.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rfP_6SXf_zAwIVQEgZ8GSSIUgN1fiCT2Vx6GwKQuyLM/edit

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-tools.org/tool/TypeFrequenciesChart/?corpus=1443013889292.3362&docIdType=d1442980913173.15668be1-28f9-b63e-f651-f6ddb6995161%3Alady&docIdType=d1442980913173.15668be1-28f9-b63e-f651-f6ddb6995161%3Agentleman&mode=document) with lady occurring more frequently at the beginning of the book, which corresponds to the prominence of Pamela’s late lady at the start of the plot.

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.

Exercise3

High Hopes

2 min read

For this exercise, I chose to focus in on the use of one word in particular from the word cloud that Voyant generated: “hope”. At the beginning of the novel, Pamela uses it several times in the context of expressing her initial opinions about Mr. B. For example, she says, “I hope I shall never find him to act unworthy of his character; for what could he get by ruining such a poor young creature as me?” Her father also shares a similar concern, saying, “I cannot but renew my cautions on your master’s kindness, and his free expression to you about the stockings. Yet there may not be, and I hope there is not, any thing in it.” Both of these quotes ironically foreshadow the events that are to come later, and there are other instances as well in which Pamela “hopes” for something and then the opposite thing happens. Read through an anti-Pamelist lens, Pamela’s hopes become almost sarcastic in nature.

I also discovered that she uses the word “hope” to describe her own personality and behavior. A couple of my favorite instances are “I hope I shall always know my place,” and “I hope, desperate as my condition seems, that as these trails are not of my own seeking, nor the effects of my presumption and vanity, I shall be enabled to overcome them, and, in God’s own good time, be delivered from them.” Again, I find myself reading these very isolated fragments of text in a very sarcastic way. This interpretation suggests that Pamela knows exactly what she is doing, and that the language she uses is specifically employed to highlight the innocence and purity that she wants to convey to her audience (both in the real world and in the context of the novel). Finally, I think that the frequency of the word hope throughout the novel somewhat pertains to Armstrong’s argument that Pamela acts like a book of conduct. Pamela simultaneously “hopes” all of these things for and about herself, and also in a way is sending the message to young female readers of the novel that she “hopes” they will follow in her footsteps and mimic her example.

Exercise3

Assignment 3

First, I found reading through the Table of Contents itself rather interesting. It is told by a third person, omniscient narrator that portrays both the events each letter/segment but also adequately conveys the emotions and ideas that the readers gather by reading Pamela's own writing. I found it to be actually quite informative and it is interesting to consider the audience that it was targeting at the time. Was it used as a reminder of the course of events and the typical means of locating a passage of interest in the book, or more so as an abridged version of the novel itself meant to be read independently.

On to the Voyant exercise, as many people have noted, most of the words that are most frequently seen in the novel (actions and titles aside) are virtues and qualities that one would expect to see in a conduct book. My immediate reaction is that the frequency of words like "good," "happy," "honor," "kind" etc. highlights this aspect of the book being a virtuous novel meant to "cultivate the principles of virtue and religion in the minds of the youth of both sexes." A vast majority of the most frequent words are positive, as listed above, thus suggesting that these are the main virtues that the novel is focusing on and attempting to cultivate.

The ease by which Voyant can thoroughly analyze an entire text is incredibly fascinating and makes this assignment rather interesting. I found that tracking the use of "Pamela" throughout the novel showed some interesting trends. Aside from addressing or signing the letters, a vast majority of the usages of "Pamela" were self-pitying remarks (i.e. "poor Pamel" or "hopeless Pamela"). This was something that I noticed while reading the novel as well, but looking through the specific usages of the word itself highlighted the self-pitying nature of her character at times. It also reminded me of scenes from Robinson Crusoe in which he pities his condition. We had talked about Robinson Crusoe being either very happy with his situation or woefully disappointed with it. Looking through the Voyant produced list of Pamela's name, I found a similar trend in that Pamela either refers to herself (or others refer to her) as "dutiful Pamela," "grateful Pamela," or "pretty Pamela." I'm not entirely sure what to make of this, but it does seem to create this air of pity around the main character as well as harkening back to the structure we saw in Defoe.

"And why"

4 min read

Richardson’s indexing: I would love to spend more time digging into this and figuring out what exactly Richardson thought he was doing — or I guess what kind of work the index is doing, since I don’t want to get into some kind of intentional fallacy trap. It was compelling to me to see what information or parts of the book Richardson believes are important and will contribute to an “easy and clear view” of the book. It’s almost as though he is puffing or blurbing himself by pointing to the locations in the book which might be most interesting — though it’s hard to know if he is acknowledging that some of us might not want to suffer through all of the pages or just might not have access to the entire text, or that he would be attempting to transmit some kind of vision/message to those who couldn’t access the full version? Indexing has to be considered some kind of technology here — he is doing work on the text and reducing it/transforming it into something distinct from the proper text. The difference in style stands out to me in particular — it’s impossible to imagine that Richardson could be so brief…also, is he the voice narrating this index or giving it to the reader? That could definitely account for the shift since this is no longer epistolary but describing the form and the content of his epistolary novel…complicated…it’s difficult to talk about this without more knowledge about the material conditions at play in the whole Pamela production. I also think it’s interesting that he often says “Pamela feels so and so way, or does so and so thing, ‘and why,’” — the why is kind of what’s important here, which lends credence to the idea that Pamela’s subjectivity is fully realized here, that she has a deep interiority.

Exercise: I love the word cloud feature/the general funny mid-2000s aesthetic of this website…I also think the stop word feature is incredibly useful. However, I’m having trouble drawing a lot of conclusions from the Voyant visualization — once I eliminate all of the words which don’t seem very interesting to me, how significant are the remaining words (statistically, I mean? Is this even calculable?)? Does it mean anything that I can pick out “master” and “poor” and “I” and “Pamela” once I cut all the words I think are boring? Or other, even more infrequently-occuring words? In other words, how applicable are the insights from this tool? What does critical work look like that uses these technologies to make arguments? In general though, I do see some really big applications for this — I spent some time unsuccessfully looking for something we looked at in one of my Shakespeare classes, which was a sort of visualization of the similarity in word choices between Shakespeare’s plays. We discussed this in the context of authorship and the class came to a sort of conclusion that it didn’t exactly matter whether or not Shakespeare wrote all of his plays, since we study them as though they are all by the same person…How does DH work fit into established canonicity notions like these? I”d love to think through its applications for GSST work specifically/read some of this work. Checked out the Journal of Digital Humanities and some other related sources and they all look really cool.

Challenge: There are plenty of applications/challenges to the Armstrong selections we read to be made using the Voyant text. Her contention that the novel evolves a new female subject — that it creates a form and disseminates it into the world — and that this subject’s value is based on her “essential qualities of mind” could certainly be mapped onto the usage of “know,” “think,” “feel,” etc. used in Pamela — maybe especially if charted against the usage in other books. This seems time-consuming but particularly interesting. With more time it would also be great to pick out all of the gender-related words and compare them to the instances of class-related words — this could lend support to or push back against Armstrong’s argument that differences of class/political issues are subsumed/subordinated to issues of gender. Maybe a collection of words could also lend credence to the ideas we’ve been discussing that these issues of gender are resolved at the end of novels…this would be fun to do with basically any novel involving a marriage plot! (Is fun the word? I don’t know.)

indexing

Excel is Useful, Sometimes.

I’ve attached a photo of a little graph I made in Excel to this post; if anyone wants to learn how to make it, just find me in class/around campus and I can show you! It’s pretty easy.

This is a visual representation of the clusters of words I pulled out of my word cloud that I referenced in my last blog post. It compares some of the most frequently used words to the overall number of words used in the novel. As you can see, these 11 words account for almost 25% of all words in the novel!

Lies and Feelings, as Told by Pamela.

First and foremost, I really enjoyed this assignment, and I’d be interested in doing this sort of textual analysis on other novels. Is there a way to get clean versions of other novels? I was thinking of doing this with Americanah.

One of my most interesting findings occurred when I was looking at my word cloud, after using the standard list of English stopwords and then adding my own to the list. I also removed mrs, said, went, quite, shall, sir, dear, and mr from my word cloud. And when I looked at what was left behind, I noticed that the top words fell into a few distinct clusters that I could recognize. The first of these clusters was the group good, poor, lady, little and Pamela. When taken into consideration together as some of the most frequent words in the novel, it raises questions about how the novel is attempting to get us to look at Pamela as a character, as a person, and as a woman. In a sense, the high frequency of these words, often used together, is priming us as readers to think of Pamela as a tiny, poor, virtuous woman throughout the novel. It is not enough to just mention “poor Pamela” once or twice; it happens all the time. The repetition of these words throughout the novel may be, on an almost subconscious level, informing our perceptions of Pamela and of female characters and of female subjectivities in the novel in general without us even realizing it. Another cluster of words I noticed were the words “think, thought, know, and say”. The high frequency of these words helps to show how Pamela is truly an early novel form, and not something else. In Pamela, the primary method of characterization is through what the characters say, think, feel, and do, not necessarily (but sometimes) the societal forces being pressed upon them. It may be possible to conclude that the heavy use of these words is helping to form the idea that characters should, and indeed often do, have individual thoughts, feelings, and subjectivities that make them who they are.

Another interesting thing that I found was during the part of the exercise where we explored the frequency of given words throughout the novel as a whole, in a sort of “chronological” sense. I noticed that the word “Honesty” is used semi-frequently throughout the first half of the novel, but then its use drops off almost completely in the second half. Is this because Pamela no longer feels the need to assert her honesty (often in reference to her Virture), or is it because Pamela is becoming less of an honest character as the novel continues? And what does that say about her reliability as a narrator? All questions I still have after this exercise.

Small bug note: if I wanted to compare relative frequencies of two words that were not on the same page (like page 3/14 for the list of frequencies), I had trouble getting both of them to show up on the graph.

Assignment 3: Dialogue, Silence, and Writing

When I first glanced at the word cloud, I saw that the most frequent words were pretty generic and weren't really surprising. This included words like "and", "you", "the", "my", "me", "to", "he", "of", "said", "a", "so". The frequency of "me" and "my" do show the importance of the first person (and Pamela's voice) in this novel, but that's already known because Pamela is, after all, a series of letters. The word "said" might be the most interesting out of this generic list, showing the frequency of dialogue (or references to dialogue). A great part of the letters consists of Pamela's account of the events that occurred and her interactions with other people. I decided to compare the occurrence of this word with the occurrence of the word silent (somewhat its opposite).

While "said" is used quite frequently in the novel, neither "silent" nor its variations seem to appear at all. I find this very interesting. It seems the narrator doesn't think silence important enough to mention. In a way, there is always something being said, even if there aren't any characters speaking at the moment. As Pamela writes, she is speaking to the reader--there is no silence anywhere.

I then decided to compare "said" to "write", as writing plays a significant role in the novel as well. The graph is included in the post.

Surprisingly, the word "write" and its variations did not appear very frequently in the novel, at least when compared to "said". More attention seems to be focused on the dialogue, but I thought writing would be important enough to appear more frequently.

Exercise 3: Voyant

2 min read

The most surprising aspect of playing around with Voyant for me was the frequency of positive words. My word cloud was dominated mostly by words with good connotations—words like “good” (855 occurrences), “gentleman” (137), “goodness” (174), “hope” (372), “kind” (204), and “honour” (209), just to name a few. For a narrative dominated by the avoidance of rape, the word cloud was overwhelmingly positive (the main exception to this rule was the word “poor,” which is used 534 times). The “poor” exception is significant, because it is usually used to describe Pamela—“…found a place that your poor Pamela was fit for,” “poor daughter’s name,” “for what could he get by ruining such a poor young creature as me?” But even still, the positivity of the word cloud surprised me. I examined the uses of the word “kind,” and though it varies based on the context, it is often used to describe Mr. B. Instances of this include “my master has been very kind to me,” “Well, he is kinder and kinder, and, thank God, purely recovered,” and “good, kind, kind gentleman!” He’s trying to rape her the whole time! To me, that portrayal of Mr. B suggests that the novel isn’t quite as feminist as we might like to believe.

I repeated the exercise for Shamela and found some interesting things—“Parson” and “Williams” are much more prominent, for example, suggesting that his character plays a more significant role in Shamela—but I’m not sure it worked correctly. Maybe the Project Gutenberg text is a different edition than the one we read, but I couldn’t find “vartue” anywhere and “virtue” was only used four times. Maybe I just exaggerated its use in our book in my head?

The fact that “honour” and similar words are used so often in Pamela supports Armstrong’s thesis that the qualifications for the desirability of a woman were in flux and shifting towards holding a woman’s moral character in high standing. It is also important to keep in mind, however, that “sir” is used 820 times and “master” 627 lest we get carried away with anointing Pamela a feminist novel or character.

exercise3

Pamela's Way More Independent than I thought

3 min read

On my first read through of Pamela, I’ pretty sure that I had the same impression of the book as everyone else did. That being, of course, that it was a pain to go through. Not because of its length (although that didn’t help either), but because of the material. We’re subjected to the character of Mr. B, a misogynistic control freak who is eventually somewhat rewarded in the fact that he marries Pamela, and Pamela, who states on multiple occasions that her virginity is more important than her life. While stating how important her virginity is, she also talks about how she’d rather be a poor virgin than a rich nonvirgin, and she goes on for a while about how honorable it is to be poor. That part struck out particularly to me, because it almost felt like she was romanticizing the notion of being poor, which is definitely not a great thing to do. If a normal, 21st century person picked this book up and read it, these problematic elements would jump out to them. So when you give a book like this to Swatties, we’re obviously going to notice just how terribly this portrays women. Even after talking in class about how this was radically liberal for its time, I still expected to see results in the cloud that matched our views when we first went through it. And, as always, technology proved me wrong. Of course, there are some things that popped up that reinforce the view that this is a problematic novel. Words such as “Master,” “Poor,” “Virtue,” and “Honour” pop up frequently (although I honestly expected to see virtue more than I did), but we also see words such as “Thought,” “Reason,” and “Believe.” In a book so flooded with Pamela doing what Mr. B tells her to do, it’s surprising to see that Pamela spends so much time doing things that a normal, intelligent, free, independent person would do, rather than the virtue slave that I thought the book was depicting. Even though Pamela is bossed around and does what she’s told, she still holds onto her own person and her own thoughts, and that’s something that I completely missed during my first read through. In general, I think this says a lot about bookies, and older books in particular. When we pick up a book, we have a preconceived notion about what should happen, how the characters should interact or feel about things, and how the book flows. And if one of those things don’t fit what we want, we get aggravated with it. And with that aggravation comes bias, and when you’re biased you tend to see things very, very subjectively. It’s tough not to read works without bias, but I think that’s definitely something that I in particular need to work on. If we really want to get the most out of a book, we need to put our ideas of what constitutes a great book and see everything through a more objective lens. …And THEN after we do that, we can joke about her “vartue.”

exercise3

Agency and Goodness

2 min read

I was interested to observe the frequency of active words, such as said, thought, reason, believe, saw, hope, gave, stay, I’ll, came, shall, and wish, which I associate with agency, freedom, self-determination, and the new rise of these options for women. Then again, I did examine every case to see who was the subject before each verb.

On the other hand, however, the most frequent words also included good, dear, master, and honour, which I see as terms used to narrowly define and limit women. Perhaps this obscures the more specific uses of these terms in favor of generalizations.

I decided, then, to look up the frequency and specific usage of the terms good and bad, with surprising results. Good remains solidly frequent throughout the novel, but bad starts out frequent but makes a marked decline to the end. I'm not quite sure what this could signify- the triumph of good over evil? Bad appears a lot next to conscience and in terms of the contents of one's heart. Also: bad name, bad conduct, bad actions, bad words, and bad designs. I wonder what the decline of "bad" implies - certainly not the end of moralizing judgment or categorical criticism.

Exercise3

Assignment 3: Voyant

3 min read

What a cool program voyant is. My first experiences with the word cloud alone brought up some interesting stuff. The two high-frequency words that really caught my eye were "should" (676) and "master" (627). Both imply some form of submission and obligation. This is pretty surface level, but i'd still like to point out the dissonance between the images of Pamela and the words in it. Pamela resists her master, refuses to bend to Mrs. Jewkes, and in general sticks to her guns against immense pressure. Yet the most prevalent words used to tell her story feature a focus on her servility and subjection. Pamela is so praised because she serves her master as well as she can, though this includes defying him. Pamela is a completely obedient character: following her parents' wishes, obeying the writ of the land in social terms (for example, refusing to enter into anything that would make her seem of a higher class, such as wearing nice clothes, as well as refusing Mr. B's advances), going so far as asking, but never taking (her constant request to be sent home, but never any actual attempt to go home when she still could). Pamela is not defiant. She is pious, so much so that her acts of "rebellion" (i.e., refusing Mr. B's advances) are in fact acts of compliance with a more righteous guideline.

There was a lot to find with voyant, beyond that first revealing glance. I edited stopwords (mostly taking out names) for the frequency cloud and became fascinated by "good" (855) and "poor" (534). Perhaps because the words were similar in size (frequency) and shape ("oo"). But of course, there is a definite correlation between the two in the novel. Poor Pamela and her poor parents are the ultimate good characters.

My last interesting observation came from looking at a word from a scene and its graph through the novel. I looked at the second attempted rape scene, when Pamela is held down between Mrs. Jewkes and Mr. B. I graphed the frequency throughout the novel of "wicked"(128). It spikes at the two rape scenes, and drops sharply after book two. Then I looked at the names I remembered Mr. B calling Pamela: sauce-box, hussy, and slut. I had expected to find a much higher frequency of these words, because he verbally abused her so much more than she him, but all clock in under 20. What does this mean? Is it because Pamela is narrating, refers to Mr. B more often than to herself (via him)? Is 128 high frequency? Does this entire investigation yield anything? I liked finding through voyant that the big picture I got from the book often didn't line up with the micro picture afforded by voyant.

Exercise3

Assignment 3: The Targeted Demographic

2 min read

Pamela is a novel that contributes to the Age of Enlightenment, emphasizing individualism over the traditional roles and authority. The word cloud shows more counts of terms of individualism (e.g. “lady”, “mind”, and “thought”) than terms of traditional roles and politics (e.g. “girl” and “God”), indicating that Pamela is an individualist and that there is a separation of gender and politics. However, the popularity of Pamela was due to its novelty, the succession of a girl of the lower class against a man of aristocracy (i.e. people identified with Pamela, the underdog). The word cloud reveals that the word “poor” is mentioned about 500 times, appealing to the lower class. The working and middle classes were enchanted with the notion of rising the socioeconomic ladder, against the forces of the aristocracy. However, this intended audience was most likely ignoring the ideas of breaking traditional roles mentioned in the novel. Therefore, we cannot state that Pamela exemplifies the Age of Enlightenment, only partially evolving it. We cannot state that Pamela spearheaded the way for other proto-feminist novels (which arrive about a 100 years later), only suggesting that women have strong desires. We cannot state that Pamela instigated ideas of going against traditional authority, only manipulating it.

I do concede that Pamela does encourage individualism over the established authority. In Desire and Domestic Fiction, Nancy Armstrong states that “In place of the intricate status system, that had long dominated British thinking, these authors began to represent an individual's value in terms of his, but more often in terms of her, essential qualities of mind” (467). Because Pamela is written in first person, the audience experience the novel through the actions and view of Pamela, gaining a strong individualistic sense. Expectedly, the word “I” is used about 10,000 times. This point of view alone allows for a better representation of Pamela and her values; Richardson wanted to break the idea of “domesticated women”, characterizing Pamela as intelligent and a freethinker. Looking back, his efforts were deemed as heresy and seemingly fruitless, as seen by Shamela in 1741 and the rise of the cult of domesticity in the 19th century.

Exercise3

Poor Pamela

2 min read

I spent a while sifting through different words and comparing their uses throughout the book, and Voyant was a fantastic tool for this kind of study. I especially valued the "Keywords in Context" tool at the bottom right of the screen which showed a few words before and after the keyword. This made comparing the linguistic usage of the words much quicker and more efficient. Out of all the words I looked at, the one that stuck out to me the most was "poor," used 534 times.

The first thing that I noticed about the usage of "poor" is that Richardson uses it gradually less frequently throughout the course of the novel. The word trend graph I've included illustrates this. However, as you'll notice, there's a slight spike towards the end of the novel. As I explored the uses of the word in different sections of the book, I discovered that towards the beginning, Pamela is constantly describing herself and her parents (even when she is speaking to them directly) as poor. Over and over again, she reiterates how poor they are and how low her station of life is. As she begins to be ingratiated into a higher socioeconomic ring through her entangling with Mr. B, she begins to describe herself as poor less often and begins using "poor" to describe other things, such as an emotional state or simply referring to others as poor. For example, in the last letter, she describes a situation in which "several poor people begged my charity, and I beckoned John with my fan, and said, Divide in the further church-porch, that money to the poor, and let them come to-morrow morning to me, and I will give them something more, if they don't importune me now." Later, in the epilogue type thing that sums up why Pamela is an excellent example to follow, Richardson declares that "her diffusive charity to the poor" (inherently saying that this is a group which she is not a part of...anymore) has "made her blessed." I found it strange that Pamela was so ready to stop associating herself with poverty when offered a way out of it, especially considered how ingrained it was in her identity towards the beginning.

Exercise3

Exercise 3

2 min read

Whilst fooling around with Voyant, I thought it might be interesting to see how often class structure, relative to other themes, is represented in Pamela. One of Armstrong’s overarching points pertains to domestic fiction’s efforts to separate female individuality from class and politics, so I set out test this theory. In order to do this, I searched through the corpus for words that we typically associate with wealth and prominence. I rummaged for indicators such as “rich”, “poor”, “poverty”, “estate”, “money”, “merit”, and “power”. Of these, “poor” was by far the most frequent occurrence, appearing a total of 534 times. This is likely due to the fact that “poor” has the largest variety of connotations; for example, the most common use of the word in Pamela is to describe distressed individuals. Still, I found plenty of instances where “poor” is used in context of poverty, and those instances appear all throughout the novel. Although none of my other entries appear as often, they still seem relevant. “Estate”, “rich”, “money”, “merit”, and “power” each appear roughly 40 to 100 times, giving me the sense that Richardson saw hierarchical class structure as something pertinent within his narrative.

To further this investigation, I searched briefly for words that we might associate with Pamela’s individuality. The most obvious indicator is “virtue”, along with any relevant modifiers. In total, the words “virtue”, “virtuous”, “virtues”, “virtuously”, and “unvirtuous” appear 120 times—a number that, to me, is shockingly low. I also took the time to search for instances where “liberty” and “liberties” are used, producing a sum of 50 results. Even scarcer is the use of the word “moral”, of which Voyant only furnished three occurrences. Similarly, “agency” only appears twice throughout Pamela. Considering that Richardson’s novel seems rooted in its defense of Pamela’s virtue and individuality, I find it peculiar that these words don’t emerge very often at all. What also strikes me is the fact that words affiliated with class structure appear just as frequently, if not more.

Exercise3

According to Armstrong, the novel established the divisions of the world as gender-based, rather than politics-based. Gender is a proxy for establishing personal identity based on thoughts, feelings, and virtue, rather than by religious sect, class, etc. To translate this claim into a very focused study of one word in one novel, I chose to look at words related to virtue, which Pamela is very preoccupied with. I was surprised to see that “virtue” did not show up on the word cloud, even after correcting the cloud to eliminate the most common words. However, “good” and “goodness” did show up on the word cloud. “Good” is rather large and thus was used very often in the book:

http://voyant-tools.org/tool/Cirrus/?corpus=1442800052520.7653&query=&stopList=1442866326626iq&docIndex=0&docId=d1442723631102.924b599d-1e4a-804f-42da-34cc9f08992d

I then looked through a bit to see how these words are used. Here are some examples:
-good lady (her former master who dies)
-if I was a good girl…
-Good sirs!
-you are a good girl, Pamela
-good old widow
-good families
-if we are good…(talking abt God)
-rather than forfeit my good name
-good advice
-good character
-that’s my good girl! He exclaimed

Most of these are describing Pamela’s character or are in some way related to remaining a good person or virtuous person.

I also looked at its frequency throughout the book:

http://voyant-tools.org/tool/TypeFrequenciesChart/?corpus=1442800052520.7653&docIdType=d1442723631102.924b599d-1e4a-804f-42da-34cc9f08992d%3Agood&stopList=1442866326626iq&mode=document

The usage of “good” fluctuates throughout the book, but it is relatively the same at the end as it is at the beginning. Could this illustrate that Pamela at the end keeps her virtue, as she is just as good at the end as she was in the beginning?

I would probably need to look at the usage of “good” in other texts, pre-Pamela and post-Pamela, and compare them to Pamela, to really make a claim about its usage in Pamela and whether it can attest to Armstrong’s claims that the inner self (thoughts, feelings, virtue) is becomes identity. But for now, I would say that its frequent usage and its similar usage at the beginning and the end can tell us that the maintenance of virtue is important to Pamela, and consequently, important to the readers of the time.

Exercise 3

2 min read

Among all the cool features that I played around with in Voyant, I found the simple word counter to be the most interesting in terms of the actual insights it revealed about Pamela and Richardson’s use of language in the book. While the word cloud was a fun visual representation of the most common words in the book, I did not feel that I could really make any concrete observations based on the relative sizes of the words in the cloud. I was able to note small things, including “Mrs.” being bigger than “Mr.” and “Williams” appearing much smaller than “Pamela” and “Master”, but these guesswork observations did not really lend themselves to any deeper understanding of the novel. However, with the word counter tool I could actually quantify the differences in sizes displayed by the word cloud, and a lot of my findings surprised me. In contrast to the word cloud, in which “Pamela” and “Master” seemed about equal in size, I discovered through the word counter that “Master” actually occurs in the book 127 more times than “Pamela” does. I did not expect this discrepancy in a book titled Pamela. I think this surprising gap can be partially attributed to Pamela’s first-person narration throughout much of the book in the form of her letters and her journal. I thought that another explanation might be that Richardson sometimes employs the word “master” as a verb, but when I searched for the appearance of the word “master” throughout the text I mostly only found it used in reference to Mr. B. I was also surprised to find that the word “virtue” only occurs 82 times throughout the text; I would have expected the count of “virtue” to be much higher since the bulk of the book is a battle for Pamela’s virtue and because Pamela holds is it as a central part of her identity. More than the word cloud or the trends graph, I felt that the text counter gave me concrete, quantifiable data about the language in Pamela. Some of the surprising results that the Voyant text counter turned up caused me to think about the way that Richardson conveys importance and gives the appearance of word frequency in regards to words that do not actually appear that commonly throughout Pamela.