Objective: To use data visualization as a tool for literary analysis.
General instructions: Use wordle.net to make a word cloud from one of our recent texts, listed below. In the reply box at the bottom of this page, share the link to your cloud and write a paragraph about how it clarifies one aspect (thematic, subtextual, associative) of the work.
Sample: Christina Rossetti’s most famous work is “The Goblin Market,” a poem about two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, who must confront temptation. Temptation occurs in the form of strange “goblin men” who offer to sell fruit to these young girls. The fruit is beautiful and delicious, but it gives the person who eats it insatiable, lethal cravings. When the two girls encounter the goblin men for the first time, Lizzie ignores them, but Laura succumbs to their temptations. Laura eats the fruit in rapture—she “suck’d their fruit globes fair or red: | Sweeter than honey from the rock;”—before returning home to her sister. Laura looks forward to the next evening, when she hopes to buy more fruit, but when evening comes, she does not hear the goblin men calling to her. She becomes sick with longing and after an extended illness almost dies. At this point, Lizzie decides to purchase fruit from the goblin men to save her sister. She leaves “at twilight and halted by the brook: | And for the first time in her life | Began to listen and look.” Lizzie’s journey mirror’s Laura’s original encounter with the goblin men; it gives the poem as a whole a parallel narrative structure. The word cloud I made demonstrates this structure. The names “Lizzie” and “Laura” are the same size, which means that their names occur in equal portions. This suggests that each character has equal importance in the poem. Additionally, since one sister falls to temptation and the other sacrifices herself to save her, it also suggests the poem’s most prominent theme: the allure of sinful temptation and the promise of redemption.
1. Open your browser in Safari (it won’t work in Chrome).
2. Go to http://www.wordle.net and click the “create” tab.
3. Choose which text you’d like to cloud from the links below (note that the link ends in.txt, which means plain text).
4. Copy the plain text of the story/poem (command c). Note that the story/poem might be a part of an anthology, so you’ll need to use the find feature (command-f) to find where it begins.
6. Paste the text (command-v) into the worldle box
7. Delete any irrelevant words.
8. Click “create your own.” If prompted, click “run.” Be patient—it might take 20-30 seconds to load.
9. Play with the formatting until you like what you’ve got.
10. Save the cloud to the public gallery and find the link for it.
11. Paste your link in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of this page and write one paragraph about your hypothesis/analysis.
12. Click the “Post Comment” button and *make sure* it shows up! As a back-up, feel free to email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
13. You’re done—have a great weekend!
“The Cask of Amontillado”
“The Goblin Market”
“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”