Tag Archives: voyant

voyant of the procreation sonnets

After talking about sonnets 1-17 (sometimes called “the procreation sonnets,” which I love) in tutorial last week, I thought it might be interesting to use Voyant on all of them to visualize the discussion we had.

sonnet voyant before

This first one was really boring and didn’t really reveal anything so I edited it to take out prepositions and pronouns and other fluff words. After doing that, it was much more reflective of the actual content.

sonnet voyant after

The second Voyant prominently features the two main themes we noticed: beauty and time. The other often-used words are exactly what you would expect. “Make” and “art” are there along with “sweet,” “world” and “love.”

I recommend clicking through to the larger image to see the most interesting part. While this word cloud looks pleasant from afar, there are a lot of tiny words with negative connotations that Shakespeare used to form his argument. “Winter,” “widow,” “wilt,” “unused,” “tomb” and “waste” are all used only twice in the span of the 17 sonnets but pack a powerful punch in context.

This cirrus did a better job than I expected of opening my eyes to the true nature of these poems. They’ve got layers of flattery and dire consequences, sweet and sinister. But if this boy was attractive enough to write seventeen sonnets to, I think I’m on Shakespeare’s side and I hope his genes are alive and well somewhere.

Voyant for The Winter’s Tale

I have used Voyant to analyze the entire Act 5 of The Winter’s Tale. Here is what I found:

voyant (Winter's Tale, Act 5)


The persona, “I” is used a lot in this act. It is because Leontes is showing his grief, using the persona “I”. In this play, he speaks of joy but he also speaks of grief. Other words that are more frequently used are ‘and’, ‘the’, and ‘to’. I suspect that word ‘to’ is used often because it is the act that he greets the crew from Bohemia.

Thank you for reading!


Michelle Joo


Voyant – Sonnet 147

Here’s an analysis of Sonnet 147’s structure to back up its meaning, using Voyant.

The sonnet, on the surface
The sonnet, on the surface

Sonnet 147 is about the speaker who seem to have failed in love, and now sees it as what caused his sickness upon realizing that his beloved is not what she truly seemed to be.

As you can see, the love-disease metaphor is very prominent in the sonnet.

Lexical set on being sick
Lexical set on love sickness, mostly appearing on lines 1-10.

But since there are various of them pertaining to being sick, and not one being repeated, the figure below says differently. The significant words and metaphors are all far from the center, when in fact they actually carry the meaning.

Just because they're not repeated doesn't meant they're not important, Voyant.
Just because they’re not repeated doesn’t meant they’re not important, Voyant.

Then, in the middle of the sonnet, some emotional and mental states are explored.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 2.13.39 AM
They’re not the speaker’s emotions, however, but Reason’s (personified).

Starting at line 11, the speakers stops talking about being sick and he gets real. In lines 13-14, the speaker reveals the exact cause of his disease.

The speaker's beloved turned out to be "shady".
The speaker’s beloved turned out to be “shady”.
And this revelation is at the couplet at the end.
And this revelation is at the couplet at the end.

The speaker has a case of love sickness, but a different form. I guess Love Sickness B, in which the person has contracted this disease by being tricked into believing his beloved was a wonderful person.

So that’s William Shakespeare’s sonnet 147, perfect for one’s (untruthful) long list of ex-lovers.


Voyant Analysis of The Winter’s Tale

voyantI chose to use Voyant to analyze Leontes’s speech that begins in Act 2, Scene 1 at line 108 (page 158 in the Arden book). This speech displays the first signs of jealousy we see from Leontes and it also foreshadows his skepticism about Hermione’s child, indicated by the question he poses to Mamillius about being his true son. While typing the speech in to get my results, I chose to omit extraneous syntax, such as certain determiners like “this” and “a.” I did however keep determiners that directly indicated towards a person, such as “my” and “thou.” Other things, like quantifiers and the word “to” were also removed to provide more relevant results. What I found was that out of 54 words used, 43 were unique, and “my” was most commonly used (4 times). By having him use that particular word so much, Shakespeare emphasizes Leontes’s expressed priority of his own feelings and thoughts over others. As he is speaking about the apparent affair that has erupted between Polixenes and Hermione, he constantly redirects the reader to how this is making him feel and what he thinks of the situation. This selfish attitude fits with his character, as for the majority of the play Leontes displays complete disregard and even villainy towards his friends and family while he believes his reputation and legacy is at stake. Other common words like “entertainment,” “bosom,” and “hot” can fall into the loosely corralled category of sexual language as they all reflect the major tension present at this point in the play.

Full link to results:


Sinclair, Stéfan and Geoffrey Rockwell. “Summary.” Voyant. 21 Mar. 2015. http://voyant-tools.org/tool/CorpusSummary/. Web

Voyant: Troilus and Cressida

Voyant (pdf attachment, for some reason my jpg uploads were a “security error”)

I used Voyant to look at the speech by Ulysses in Act I, Scene III of Troilus and Cressida. To summarize what happens at the beginning of this scene before the speech is given, Agamemnon is talking with the other Greek leaders, wondering why the troops are so downcast. He believes that they should embrace the struggle as greatness comes from difficult times. Nestor agrees with him and says that heroism is born of struggle. When Ulysses speaks, he agrees, but also says that the real problem that is making the soldiers downcast is that they are losing respect for authority, and the problem comes from Achilles. Achilles is sitting in his tent lazily, and Patroclus is making fun of the leaders, and Ajax and his slave, Thersites, are doing the same and so are making the problem worse. Everyone agrees that this is a problem and then Anaeas of the Trojans comes, issuing Hector’s challenge to have the greatest Greek warrior fight him in single-combat. After Anaeas leaves, Ulysses realizes that this challenge is meant for Achilles, but he sees that if Achilles were to lose, the entire Greek army would lose morale. He suggests that Ajax fight instead, because if he lost, then they could claim that Achilles would have won had he been the one fighting, and also, this snub of the title of being the greatest Greek warrior would bother Achilles so much that he would join in the war again and bring with him his men. In this speech, Ulysses highlights the importance of restoring the soldiers’ respect for authority, saying that their lack of respect will lead to anarchy and thus destruction.

Reading this speech, you can clearly see the wisdom and intelligence of Ulysses that is so famously shown in The Odyssey. I had this sense that he was a doctor diagnosing the problem and giving the right prescription for it. As wise and intelligent as Ulysses is, and having read The Odyssey and seeing that he has a hubris problem (specifically when he meets the Cyclopes Polyphemus and tells him his name after blinding him, which comes back to bite him), I thought it was interesting that Ulysses was focused on maintaining unity and understanding the need for the Greeks to work together and not seeking to control the army himself, even though he was smart enough to do so.

I thought that the metaphor of the hive and the bee was interesting especially because a similar metaphor was used in The Rape of Lucrece, though under different circumstances. It’s also interesting to note that in Shakespeare’s time, people believed that there was a hive king and not a hive queen – that just shows how deep the misogyny ran.

As seen in my Voyant screenshot, the word “degree” is repeated several times throughout this speech. It’s clear that this word means authority, and Ulysses paints a strong picture of the threat of the lack of authority. In his discussion of the heavens and planets, it means destruction, the reverse of what is natural – something that Shakespeare focuses a lot on in his works. In The Tempest, for example, Prospero calls his younger brother “unnatural” because he usurped him – in Shakespeare’s world, it is unnatural for the younger brother to have more power than the elder. It is a lack of order, and so it is chaos. Ulysses goes on to discuss what a lack of respect of authority means in daily life – sons would disrespect their fathers and justice would fail. In saying that authority is “the ladder to all high designs” it is suggestive of the concept of the divine right of kings, saying that the authority belonging to these Greek kings is given to them by their gods. To me, this speech was especially reminiscent of Macbeth and of Hamlet, where the political upheaval in the lands of the stories actually causes horrible natural disasters – this can be seen in King Lear as well, where when Lear has been cast out by Regan and Goneril he is outside in a terrible storm.

Ulysses is wise and eloquently makes very powerful points that in a time where it was understood that the disintegration of order meant chaos, would have greatly appealed to the audience and would have been supported.