In lab six, I decided to graph the relationship between who talks to whom in act one, scene two of William Shakespeare’s (approximately) 1606 play _Macbeth. _I chose this scene for two reasons: one, it was short, and two, Macbeth is not speaking at all in this scene. Therefore, I did not find myself being forced to focus solely on the actions and speech of the main character of the play, but instead, I found myself looking for any other connections between five of the characters of the play and trying to figure out what these connections meant (or mean) for the entirety of the play, itself.
Making my social network graph did, in fact, show me something that I did not think of when originally reading the play. Although I only graphed the connections for one scene of Shakespeare’s play, it showed me just how completely oblivious King Duncan and his court were to Macbeth’s (and the Weird sisters’) plans of taking the throne by any means necessary. Yes, I knew that they could have had no idea of knowing, but seeing who is talking to whom really highlighted who was not considered a threat. I can imagine that if I had decided to graph the connections in this same scene between who is talking about whom instead, that I would have come to the same conclusion, since Macbeth’s name is only brought up four times in this scene: twice near the middle when talking about his bravery and ability to keep the king’s empire intact regardless of the Thane of Cawdor’s treason, and twice again at the very end, when King Duncan proclaims Macbeth the new Thane of Cawdor. Another thing that this network graph showed me is how central King Duncan is to this play. Aside from holding the title that Macbeth ultimately steals, Duncan’s interactions with his court show his leadership. In this scene, there is only one instance in which two people are talking to each other that do not include Duncan (Malcolm tells the Captain to relay to the king the battle as it played out). The rest of the conversations that take place within this scene happen between Duncan and either Ross, Malcolm, the Captain, or Lennox.
The advantages of social network analysis in literary studies vary. One advantage is that one can learn more about a specific piece of literature (or even a collection of literary works) by focusing solely on the relationships that occur between characters or between works of literature. By not focusing on the content of the piece(s) of literature, one is able to look at these relationships as being critical to the work itself and as being useful to analyzing the author’s choice of creating these distinct relationships. The disadvantage, however, of social network analysis is that by focusing only on the relationships between characters in a work of literature, for example, one misses the information that can only be gathered by looking closely at the content of the work, especially if the person analyzing has never read the work before and only has the data gathered from social network analysis to refer to.