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Textual Analysis, or Text Analysis, is used by researchers to describe and interpret the characteristics of a body of text. It is an exciting field that encompasses new research methods and software. Text analysis is being used across academia, as well as by companies and government agencies.

We have recently conducted a Text Analysis of Macbeth to study gender-participation in Macbeth, where we explored the following questions:

  • The participation of women by analysing the proportion of words spoken in groups
  • The presence of women by analysing the number of words spoken over the length

Our findings are shared below using three simple charts. Two key inferences:

  • Female characters speak mostly in the presence of men, but the opposite is not true.
  • Female participation peaks just before the concluding Scenes, however, in the actual concluding Scenes their participation is nil.

 

Chart 1: Proportion of words spoken by male and female characters

Chart 1 shows the number of words spoken by a character (male/female) in a scene. We can infer that:

  • There is only one “women-only” scene in the entire play (Act I Scene I).
  • More words spoken by male characters throughout the play, i.e., 69.54%.

This gives us a hint that Shakespeare has given less participation to female characters in proportion to male characters.

 

Chart 2: Dialogues spoken

Chart 2 represents the dialogues spoken by the characters. The bubble size indicates the number of words in a given dialogue and its horizontal placement shows its relative position in the play. It shows that:

  • Female characters’ presence is higher towards the beginning, i.e., more female dialogues in the earlier scenes.

  • No female participation in concluding scenes.

 

Chart 3: Dialogues spoken by a male/female characters and the corresponding trend

Chart 3 represents two trend-lines.

The Black trend-line indicates the presence of male characters. The Red trend-line indicates the presence of female characters throughout the play.

Inferences:

  • Presence of female characters is more towards the beginning.
  • Female participation peaks before the concluding part of the play.

 

To sum up, less participation has been given to female characters as compared to male characters (only 30% of words are spoken by female characters), specific to Macbeth.

  • Female characters speak mostly in the presence of men, but the opposite is not true.
  • Though the presence of female characters is more towards the beginning, the number of words per dialogue is proportionately more towards the end.
  • Female participation peaks just before the concluding Scenes, however, in the actual concluding Scenes their participation is nil.