For this lab, I choose to do a network analysis for Chapter XXVI of Jane Eyre. I hadn’t read the chapter before, and simply choose it because I had to read the book for another class, but it actually turned out to be a great chapter to complete this kind of analysis for. The chapter focuses on Mr. Rochester and Jane’s wedding day, when it is brought to light that he has another wife. The chapter has a lot of social interactions, and some new characters are even introduced, so making the diagram helped a lot to orient myself to what was actually going on.
I started off by making the nodes table, which listed the names of characters, gave them an Id number, and added an attribute, which I just used gender for. The gender attribute can also be seen in the diagram, with the males being in blue bubbles, and the females in pink.
I then made the edges table. I wanted the edges to be directed, so the source is Id of the person that initiated the conversation, and the target is the Id of whom they are talking to. I also included the frequency, meaning the amount of times this source initiated a conversation with this target.
The next step was to actually create the network diagram. Like I mentioned earlier, I used blue and pink bubbles to signify the gender attribute. The varying sizes of the bubbles have to do with the strength of that particular node. Mr. Rochester, for example, has a larger bubble because he has the most interactions. The servant, on the other hand, has a much smaller bubble because he has only one connection.
The edges are directed, with the arrows coming from the person who initiated the conversation and pointing toward the person who is being conversed with. I also included weight; where the thicker the edge is, the more times a conversation has been initiated to that person. For example, the edge that is directed from Mr. Mason to Mr. Rochester is very thin because there is only one instance where Mr. Mason initiates the conversation to him. If you look at the reverse, where the edge goes from Mr. Rochester to Mr. Mason, the edge is much thicker because Mr. Rochester initiated a conversation with Mr. Mason 4 times throughout the chapter.
By creating this network diagram, I was actually able to gain a lot of insight into Jane Eyre. One thing that I had already suspected from reading up to this point in the novel, and that the diagram for this chapter reinforced, is that the male characters in the story are almost always the ones to initiate contact.
You would think that a novel titled Jane Eyre, in which Jane is our point of view and protagonist, would have the main female character initiating conversations and having an active role in her life, especially on her wedding day. As we can see from my network analysis, however, Jane does not initiate a single interaction throughout the entire chapter. In fact, Sophie, little Adèle’s nurse, is the only female character to initiate a conversation in the entire chapter, and even then, it is to Jane, another female, not a male character.
I think the results of this diagram could easily be used to make an argument about gender relations that occurred during this time period in England. Throughout Jane Eyre there are obvious points where Jane and the other women are subjected to dominant male influence, but I think this diagram is a really good way to emphasize this distinction in a visual way.
Although network diagrams like the one I created are obviously very subjective and completely dependent on the creator’s views and what they are trying to note, Ido think that they can be tremendously helpful as a starting point for further literary investigation, and that’s where I see the most value in creating them.