In order to complete this lab, I chose to analyze and work with Aphra Behn’s The Rover. Specifically, I used Act I, Scene I. In my graph and chart, the purple color and id #1 represents female characters, and the green color and #2 represents male characters. After working with this text, I think this graph really showed me one important aspect of the text I would not have realized otherwise. It begins with two women talking, and men come into the conversation later. Throughout the whole Scene I, it seems as though the women are dominating the conversation, and in turn, the attention of the readers. Regardless of what the plot is, I think the women-dominated conversation and attention was a significant move toward building women up on Behn’s part.
In addition to helping analyzers understand new aspects of literary works, I think there are several benefits to using network analysis in literary studies. If you are analyzing gender, like I chose to do, it seems as though this form of research can reveal a lot about what the author’s message is on gender roles or how gender roles fit into the time period that the works of literature were written in. In addition, it can show, in a very simple and clear way, how often characters interact with each other without even having to read the text itself. Another benefit of network analysis can simply be seen as discovering the protagonists of texts. This form of analysis will easily show who the main focus of the text is depending upon how many interactions he/she has with the rest of the characters.
While there are clearly some advantages of network analysis, I think there are some disadvantages that have to be discussed. Like I mentioned before, this form of research is great because it can help people study works of literature without actually reading them. This is definitely a downfall, as well. If people are only focused on character-to-character interactions, and only skim the literature to get this information, can this really be classified as literary studies? Also, if you do not necessarily study the plot or anything that takes place during the literature, aren’t you missing a huge portion of what literature actually is? While some people may disagree, I think network analysis could benefit from including some kind of plot information into the character interactions.
There are a few challenges and difficulties that arise with this method of literary analysis. The first challenge is the time involved in the creation of the analysis. While this method saves researchers time after the charts and graphs are created, the creation process itself is somewhat tedious. It was pretty easy for me to become confused with the numbers and labels of characters and interactions, so I can imagine that it could be the same for others, as well. I was very lucky because I chose to analyze a play, so the character names were clearly labeled by each quote. If you are analyzing any other form of literary, however, character labels and interactions are probably much more complicated to identify and recognize.