To introduce this post, I would like to mention the inspiration for creating this experiment which is fairly dichotomous from what I have previously done. Prof. Eric Raimy spoke with me about my work on this blog and, while remaining supportive of what I was doing, challenged me to look at my methods anew. His argument against the ultimate realization of what I was doing was that it didn’t seem logical or realistic that I could get similar or the same results, even after eliminating a character or two from the play. For what is it that we perceive as “Shakespeare” if the lines of a leading character are but a trifle? Prof. Raimy told me that I needed to try the opposite of my subtraction experiments; that is, a multiplication experiment.
My setup remained with the three Romances I had looked at previously and their respective main characters. I decided now to isolate the characters and their respective plays one by one against the corpus, thereby attempting to truly pinpoint the effects of these characters and the effects acting upon them. In the fourfold pictures below, that initial isolation against the corpus is in the top left corner. I then amplified any potential effects of the main character in their play by multiplying their lines by two, five, and then ten. My results are below, with Leontes and the Winter’s Tale set leading.
Initially in the Winter’s Tale isolation, the movement of most of the highest tragedies is fairly obvious. With the introduction of Leontes, the orange section from Antony and Cleopatra to Timon of Athens is moved out of what was previously the green middle of the original corpus diagram. However, it is not that the orange section is moving apart, but rather the blue section moving onto the other half of the tree to gather near the red cluster. This is strikingly different from the original corpus and would suggest that the isolation of Leontes prompted Shakespeare’s corpus to divide itself and move apart.
When I spoke with Prof. Michael Witmore last Friday, he asked me how I would describe what is going on in these diagrams, particularly when introduction of new elements, or division of standing elements, results in movement across the diagram. I ended up settling on the thought of a lump of texts represented two dimensionally on the diagram. When a new element is introduced, it changes the features of the lump, so that it acts similarly to convolutions on the brain. A similar “brain” or corpus of texts lies underneath each of these “Shakespearean diagrams, but their distinguishing features, i.e. convolutions, shift and change. This can be transferred onto different corpora in a set as well. Instead of the convolutions and ridges of the data set being the limitations and distinguishing features of the corpus, the idea of a brain or central locus becomes an outer periphery past which nothing in the data set can be represented. This idea of an expansive universe approach is shown in diagrams like Prof. Witmore’s diagram of one-hundred and fifty years of drama or even across authors like Dekker and Shakespeare. While this larger space allows for more movement of groups of texts, movement to the outer reaches is just as illogical as assuming less movement in a space with less restrictions. However movement can occur much like analysis of a galaxy might, with more movement appearing when viewed within a larger scope. Following this idea, different sets of Shakespeare’s plays may have more room to distinguish themselves and their features but they still remain within the ultimate system of “Shakespeare”. This expansive explanation may cause more problems than it solves, but hopefully it facilitates grappling with the results and texts I show here.
Returning to Leontes, if the presence of his lines truly causes the corpus to rupture, a closer analysis and more control of the variables is needed to prove this. Shown below are two diagrams, one without Leontes’s isolated lines present and one without the text of the Winter’s Tale w-o Leonte’s lines. As you may see, the movement is still occurring with and without the Leontes’s lines being isolated. This kind of element manipulation may be useful for later applications, however I am currently working off of the assumption that two versions of the play (or three if you count Leontes’s lines) will not be detrimental to the structure of the corpus, but rather illuminating.
What is also interesting while analyzing the other three diagrams in this set is the fact that Leontes’s lines and the play don’t move. Indeed, the only movement relative to the play that can be seen is the play without Leontes and the Merchant of Venice. They cluster together in the third diagram and move as a pair to the extremity of the diagram in the fourth. But when the Merchant moves in the third diagram, other elements move as well. The large movement between the second and third diagram redoes the division seen initially. However, now the division isn’t as clean as it was. Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet are both left with the Histories, which is a grouping we have not seen before. As the fourth picture appears it is not that the corpus has rethought its earlier division, but a Leontes-centric corpus has been created. This overwhelming presence of Leontes has so dominated the corpus that it is arranging around that text as a locus rather than with a collection of shared attributes. However, that does signify a huge correlation between All’s Well that Ends Well and Cymbeline with this artificially constructed world as these two plays in particular have stuck by throughout the amplification of Leontes’s presence.
When comparing Leontes’s diagrams to Prospero’s, some similarities are present. Mainly that the play, with and without Prospero, create the focal point of the diagram. Interestingly, Prospero is absent from this middle section until the second diagram when his lines are multiplied by two in the text of the Tempest. This magnetic attraction in order to pull Prospero towards his original play implies a certain autonomy that Prospero’s lines possess. He does claim nearly 30% of the play’s lines. However it could also reveal the tragic nature of his lines through its clustering with a group of mostly Tragedies from All’s Well to Coriolanus and is immediately followed by some of the most tragic plays in the group from Hamlet to Timon of Athens. I fear that the second diagram is only duplicating the locus effect seen in the greater degrees of Leontes’s multiplication. And it appears that after multiplying Prospero’s lines by five that we have reached a saturation point in Shakespeare’s corpus where any additional Prospero is superfluous for the rest of the diagram. As you might notice in the fourth diagram, there is almost no perceptual difference between the fourth and the third picture except that the twig with Tempest and Prospero connects closer to their names on the left. Since this diagram is working on a distance scale, all that means is that the statistical difference between the Tempest and Prospero has lessened, i.e. they are becoming more similar to themselves. The rest of the result when inundating the corpus with Prospero is negligible as it appears more like a smear of previous genre distinctions and groupings.
Switch your attention now over to Imogen and her situation. To say that we are seeing similar effects transferring across the sets of diagrams would be reasonable. However the section that moves has neatly inserted itself within the red group normally inhabited by the Histories. Similarly to the diagrams of Leontes, there is again no difference between the first two diagrams but stop your gaze at the third. I would dare to call to this single diagram the crème de la crème out of what we have seen so far. What makes this diagram so important is its similarity to another diagram that we have already seen, which is the one in my previous post here. The only differences between the two are the placement of Winter’s Tale and Merchant of Venice and the Tempest and Julius Caesar. But what does this nearly identical nature between the pictures mean??? Can this signify the fact that amplifying a character’s lines can apparently substitute for another character’s lines entirely? For it looks like Imogen is either performing the same changes as when Prospero and Leontes are present or absent or she is acting in a method that is independent of them. Regardless, it appears that Imogen has a powerfully “Shakespearean” attitude albeit only present when amplify by a factor of five. She does a great job of dividing the plays by genre, with the Histories in red, the Comedies in green, and the Tragedies in blue. I believe this is the cleanest division of Shakespearean genre that I have seen yet, despite it getting rid of the Romance category. The only quibbles I might have would be the placement of All’s Well in the Tragedies, Romeo and Juliet in the Comedies, and Love’s Labour in the Histories. However each of these placements may be explained, All’s Well has a near tragic plot, Romeo and Juliet has a comic plot ending in tragedy, and Love’s Labour has been in the Histories since the original corpus diagram. For all I know, this could be Shakespeare’s true genre divisions based on authorial style and, to an extent, content. Unfortunately this still leaves us with the question of how amplifying Imogen can create this artifice of genre. Would this suggest the deepest of divisions between how Shakespeare wrote female characters and that Imogen’s “Shakespearean”-ness was merely hidden by the multitude of males? Or is it that Imogen’s comic nature was throwing off of the diagram until her isolation could reveal her true affiliation apart from the overall tragedy of Cymbeline? Truly, I have no concrete answer to this.
Continuing on to when Imogen is multiplied by ten, the delicate balance present in the third picture vanishes and is replaces a kind of Shakespearean swirl between a dominant and sub-dominant locus where Imogen and Cymbeline x 10 drags part of the diagram away from the other half.
Assuming the results from Leontes and Prospero as dead ends, the findings above with Imogen may indeed signify the importance of character’s lines upon genre as well as have deeper implications for the very presence of a genre called Romance in Shakespeare’s plays.