Shakespearean Play Summaries

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The plays of William Shakespeare are generally divided into acts, which are in turn divided into scenes. Within each scene there is a sequence of speakers. This Demonstration visualizes the speaker structure of eight of Shakespeare's most famous plays. You select the play. The Demonstration responds with a set of colored points in which the color and axis of the point denote the character and the axis denotes the positions in the play during which that character speaks. Dark lines denote act divisions and faint gray lines denote scene divisions. You can also choose whether to identify the speaker by a tooltip or with labels at the left side of the graphic.

Contributed by: Seth J. Chandler (March 2011)
Original data contributed by: William Shakespeare
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



Shakespeare experts may enjoy trying to guess the play from its "signature" above. If that proves too difficult, they may enjoy, knowing a play, guessing which sequence of points represents each character. Note for example that while one "purple" character in Hamlet has a lot of lines, that character does not quite make it to the end of the play.

A correction has been made to the electronic version of Othello, substituting in the presumably intended "Second Gentleman" for "Second Gentlemen."

The code underlying this Demonstration could easily be modified so that the tooltip for each point not only displayed the name of the character, but also what they were saying.

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