Exploring Shakespeare’s Sonnets with SPARSAR
Linguistics and Literature Studies Vol. 4(1), pp. 61 – 95
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Shakespeare’s Sonnets have been studied by literary critics for centuries after their publication. However, only recently studies made on the basis of computational analyses and quantitative evaluations have started to appear and they are not many. In our exploration of the Sonnets we have used the output of SPARSAR which allows a full-fledged linguistic analysis which is structured at three macro levels, a Phonetic Relational Level where phonetic and phonological features are highlighted; a Poetic Relational Level that accounts for a poetic devices, i.e. rhyming and metrical structure; and a Syntactic-Semantic Relational Level that shows semantic and pragmatic relations in the poem. In a previous paper we discussed how colours may be used appropriately to account for the overall underlying mood and attitude expressed in the poem, whether directed to sadness or to happiness. This has been done following traditional approaches which assume that the underlying feeling of a poem is strictly related to the sounds conveyed by the words besides/beyond their meaning. In that study we used part of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. We have now extended the analysis to the whole collection of 154 sonnets, gathering further evidence of the colour-sound-mood relation. We have also extended the semantic-pragmatic analysis to verify hypotheses put forward by other quantitative computationally-based analysis and compare that with our own. In this case, the aim is trying to discover what features of a poem characterize most popular sonnets.