Franco Moretti, an English professor at Stanford University, has been working to refine a new method of looking at literature. By entering the digitized text of Hamlet into a specialized program, a quantitative view of the play can be constructed, allowing a new perspective to be gained on the text. The data from the search was used to create a series of charts, detailing character interactions with one another. This view provided several surprising details, including the fact that every character who speaks to both Hamlet and Claudius (with only two exceptions) dies by the end of the play, which Moretti refers to as the “region of death,” pictured below. While attempts at quantitative analysis of literature is nothing new, I’m pretty hopeful that this new push will make a larger impact.


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