Comparing Word Usage in Shakespeare’s the Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis

When William Shakespeare dedicated his narrative poem Venus and Adonis to his benefactor in 1593 he made a solemn promise. “I… vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you with some graver labour.” A year later he produced the Rape of Lucrece, a poem considered by many to be one of “the Bard’s” more serious works. Using the text mining tools in R we can see that Shakespeare appears to have fulfilled his vow. While there are numerous similar words that point to an unsurprising similarity in style(after all both were written in narrative form and back to back), the more distinctive words in each seem to illustrate a marked gap in the tone of these poems. The Rape of Lucrece  mentions words like “honour,” “sad,” and “sin,” more then Venus and Adonis. Comparatively, the latter makes use of more positive words like, “kiss,” “boar,” and “cheek.” Yet, context is all, and those of us who have read Venus and Adonis know that a “kiss” may not be enjoyed by all and the hunted may become the hunter. Thus, in a forthcoming post, we will delve deeper into these two works using R’s sentiment analysis tools and call Shakespeare to account for the vow he made 423 years ago.

The Comparison Table

Common Lucrece Distinctive Venus Distinctive Lucrece “More” Distinctive* Venus “More” Distinctive*
the which love honour kiss
and when now sad boar
to then shall sin boy
in have more while cheek
of such being live hard
his did heart thing best
*These categories exclude proper nouns

The code that makes it work

#First download Venus and Adonis and the Rape of Lucrece in .txt form, from PorjectGutenberg. You will also need the stringr and stringi packages.
##Part 1- Cleaning up “The Rape of Lucrece”
Lucrece.lines.scan<scan(“c:\\yourname\\location\\TheRapeofLucrece.txt”,what=”character”, sep=”\n”)
Lucrece.lines Lucrece.lines Lucrece.string Lucrece.words Lucrece.words Lucrece.words Lucrece.words.df Lucrece.words.df$lower colnames(Lucrece.words.df)[1]<- “words”
Lucrece.words.df$clean_text Lucrece.words.df$cleaned Lucrece.clean.tbl.df Lucrece.cleaned.tbl.ord.df colnames(Lucrece.cleaned.tbl.ord.df)[1] <- “Words”
#Cleaning up “Venus and Adonis
VenusAdonis.line.scan VenusAdonis.lines VenusAdonis.lines VenusAdonis.string VenusAdonis.words VenusAdonis.words VenusAdonis.words VenusAdonis.words.df VenusAdonis.words.df$lower colnames(VenusAdonis.words.df)[1]<- “words”
VenusAdonis.words.df$clean_text VenusAdonis.words.df$cleaned VenusAdonis.clean.tbl.df VenusAdonis.cleaned.tbl.ord.df colnames(VenusAdonis.cleaned.tbl.ord.df)[1] <- “Words”
#Part 2- Comparison
##Which words are common in both “the Rape of Lucrece” and “Venus and Adonis”?
write.table(table, “C:\\your.location\\VenusAdonis-Lucrece.csv”,sep=”,”, col.names=NA)
##Which words are “somewhat”distinctive?
##Which words are “more”distinctive?
VenusAdonis.cleaned.tbl.ord.df[which(!VenusAdonis.cleaned.tbl.ord.df$Words[1:500]%in% Lucrece.cleaned.tbl.ord.df$Words[1:500]),]
Lucrece.cleaned.tbl.ord.df[which(!Lucrece.cleaned.tbl.ord.df$Words[1:500]%in% VenusAdonis.cleaned.tbl.ord.df$Words[1:500]),]