- Question: What are the major themes in Jane Austen’s works, according to the most common words used in the novels?
- Result: three of the top four words in Austen’s novels are “Mr” Mrs” and “Miss,” a predictable result, considering her large amount of characters, but the fact that “Mr” and “Mrs” trump the term “said” perhaps reveals how important the gender relations are in the novels; considering that “Mrs” is about 600 times more frequent than Miss, the fourth most common term, this gives concrete data to the already well known fact that Austen’s novels place a lot of focus on marriage.
- Reflection: While these results do give a little bit of a basis for the theme of marriage and gender relations, most of the other most common terms are characters names and sort of abstract terms that can’t really be tied to a single theme.
- Question: How prominent is the theme of marriage in Austen’s novels, according to the word frequency?
- Result: In this instance, I entered certain terms that relate to marriage: marriage, engagement, marry, proposal, elope, etc.. In this instance, the terms “marriage” and “engagement” are the most prominent of the 12 I entered, both being above 150 instances while the rest are below 100, but these results pale in comparison to the previous of “mr” “mrs” and “miss” which are all at around 2000 instances. (It’s also worth noting that “engagement” can be used in Austen’s novels in situations other than marriage, making the fact that “marriage,” which has a much more limited use, is more frequent than engagement particularly significant.
- Reflection: While marriage is a major theme in Austen’s novels, the data isn’t really giving the same answer. The issue here is that while marriage is a constant thought in all of Austen’s novels, it is usually not actually present until the final chapters of the novels. While marriage is the end goal, there is still the question of how it is obtained, what are the means through which the characters make a marriage happen? One of the ways a marriage happens in Austen’s novels, usually for the protagonists, is a marriage of mutual love.
- Question: How often do terms relating to love come up in Austen’s novels?
- Result: I entered the following terms: love, heart, affection, regard, fond, esteem, in addition to each term in it’s #* form. While still not coming close to the 2000 range of “Mr” “Mrs” and “Miss,” the term “love” does appear almost 500 times, making it over twice as frequent as the term marriage at 214 instances. The terms “heart,” “affection,” and “regard” all also appear more often than marriage.
- Reflection: Again, while the terms “mr” “mrs” and “miss” are much more frequent, the fact that “love” and terms relating to it are doubly as frequent as “marriage” and terms relating to it reveals that while marriage be the goal for the protagonists and other character, love takes precedent and is regarded more important than marriage in and of itself in Austen’s novels, according to the data.
Further Thoughts: While love is apparently more important than marriage alone, and is presumably one of the major motivations for marriage in the novels, it would be interesting to analyze other motives for marriage that Austen gives in her novels and see how those compare, e.g. money, looks, character, etc. given the time and capacity to do such a study, one could see how these different motivations are ranked according to the data and even look to see if there are any character correlations between different motivations for marriage and see if those marriages are depicted as negative or positive in the novels. One could also compare which motivations seem to appear more in certain novels and see if that has any correlation with the overall theme of that particular novel, while the novels all follow the courtship-marriage plot, the data could perhaps reveals some more minute differences between them.