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Computational Text and Quantitative Analysis of Virginia Wolf’s Mrs Dalloway

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 1543 words Published: 18th May 2020

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In Literature in the Digital Age: A Critical Introduction, Hammond (2016) asserts that quantitative methods for literary analysis are being applied to literature since long, particularly for the analysis of the style. In this respect, this paper undertakes a computational text and quantitative analysis of Virginia Wolf’s Mrs Dalloway through stylistic analysis, etymology and free indirect discourse analysis.

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Computational Text and Quantitative Analysis of Virginia Wolf’s Mrs Dalloway

I choose to use Wolf’s Mrs Dalloway as my text to analysis because I have never read the novel before and due to the fact her books are widely known. From analysing the text with voyant tools I have discovered the book largely depicts the mental state and conscious thoughts of the characters through a neatly woven narrative describing the events in a single day. Right from Mrs. Dalloway’s flower purchase scene, the variation in the presentation pattern of her thoughts indicate the changes in her mood and thought as influenced by external factors and events and the subtle position of the characters in the interior and exterior world highlights the theme of communication and isolation.

 In respect of the macro-etymological textual analysis, macro etym is identified as a popular command-line tool that offers a verbose macro-etymological analysis of single texts and facilitates a comparative analysis of works for texts in any language and multiple texts (Hammond, 2016). In this respect, Mrs Dalloway uses words and vocabulary from a wide range of languages including Anglo-Normal to German. The following table presents the frequency of the words taken from different languages, wherein maximum words can be seen to be belonging to the Old English language, followed by Old French language wherein the least number of words have been taken from Angloramani (see figure below):

Figure 1: Macroetym for Mrs. Dalloway

(Source: https://dls.hypotheses.org/129. )

 Examination of the linguistic patterns in the novel, four unique lexical sets, namely, urban set, mature set, mental process set and the house set, can be identified to be offering four thematic motifs, namely, the human world, the natural world, the psychic world of human being and the domestic world. The range of words used within these sets has been presented in the table below, wherein each one of them evokes the stylistic milieu in the novel.

Table 1: Linguistic patterns in Mrs. Dalloway

Urban set

Nature set

Mental process set

Domestic set

Courtiers, the King, the Queen, Lords, daughters, doctors, Prime Minister, ladies, gentlemen, Empire, Union Jack, Commoners, Generals, coolies, Indian civilians, politicians, Duchess, minor officials, fountain, luncheon, degrees, honours, movies, chatter, Viceroys, shop, party, opera, history, memoirs, glitter, slum, traffic, lustre, candelabras, courtesies, crowd, bells, smoke, toffee, Generals, culture, bazaar, market, flower shop, furs, parcels, coolies, Indian civilians, shops with leather-bags, scent

Sea, waves, trees, rooks, flowers, air, night, mist, birds, leaves vegetables, jungle, day, dogs, hills, clouds, stars, sky, twigs, roots, sparrow, moon, sun roses, gulls, blossoms, orchids, fields, rivers, moonlight, skylight, salmon, earth, mountain-passes

Feelings, grief, anguish, tears, soul, pleasure, horror, sorrow, hatred, courage, impulsive, terrific, queer, silent, endurance, content, , solemn, awful, strange, vivacious, transcendental, spiritual, inarticulate, insensitive, imagination, affliction, loneliness, alone, woodenness, mysterious, solitary, spiteful, grudge, remorseless, instinctively, hollowness, suffocation, impressions

Room, attic, bed, drawing-room, giant candlesticks, ice-cream freezers, pen-knife, bread-knife, dining room, glass, curtains, silver casket, crystal dolphin, silver, soup-tureens, pudding basins, pillow-covers, paper-knife, linen, china, embroideries, finery, air-cushion, arm-chairs

An interrelation can be established between these four unique and varied lexical sets through a subtle lexico-semantic relation or the relation between the two binaries of public and private life, external and the internal world, surface and the depth, culture and nature, affluence and impoverishment. The novel also demonstrates the linguistic virtuosity of Wolf and some lexical items examined with respect to their co-textual features are: wear and house (Hoff, 2009). The usage of the word ‘wear’ in the sentence ‘She would wear it, … she would wear it tonight’ (42) can be seen in the regular denotative sense; while in the sentence, ‘And for a second she wore a look of extreme dignity standing by the flower shop… (20)’ it highlights a sense of Mrs Dalloway wearing a kind of forced delusion or the false sense of dignity imposed by the world. Similarly, the use of the word ‘house’ in ‘The hall of the house was cool as a vault’ (33) can be seen in a literal sense although with a metaphorical sense as a vault, thereby signifying a constricted place for Mrs. Dalloway (Guo, 2017). On the other hand, the use of ‘house’ in ‘For the House sat so long that Richard insisted, after her illness, that she must sleep undisturbed’ (35) suggests the Parliament of England and symbolised that since the House sat for so long Richard, as a husband did not have time for his house and wife.

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It has been further analysed that the characteristic feature for the presentation of thought in Mrs. Dalloway is Free Indirect Thought (FIT), through which Wolf dramatizes the varied impressions and experiences of the minds of the characters and let the readers in the minds of the characters (Guo, 2017). The FIT thus offers a feel of a soliloquy to her indirect interior monologue. For example, ‘Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely; all this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become. . consoling to believe that death ended absolutely?’ (11). She also combines FIT with Free Indirect Discourse (FID). For example, ‘For Lucy had her work cut out for he’, which as an example of intentional cliché highlights the FID thereby indicating the subjectivity of the character in the narration. In another example, ‘How fresh, how calm’, the expression conveys the stylistic idiom of the character Clarissa, which is another feature of free indirect discourse (Hoff, 2009). 


Based on the overall computational and quantitative analysis of Wolf’s Mrs Dalloway, it can be concluded that embarking upon the idea that quantitative pattern in style is an effective means to free literary criticism from the limited nature of qualitative analysis and interpretation.

The title of the book can lead you to believe it is about Mrs.Dollaway which you may expect to be the most frequent name in the book but instead it is Clarissa which is used 242 times, voyant tools is an exciting way of studying a book rather than traditionally reading and highlighting.

 Figure 2:Cirrus of words used in Mrs. Dalloway

Figure 3:  Voyant Analyisation of  Mrs. Dalloway


  • Guo, H. 2017. Isolation and Communication AStylisticAnalysis of Thought Presentation in Mrs. Dalloway. Advances in Language and Literary Studies 8(1), pp. 167-175.

         Hammond, A. 2016. Literature in the Digital Age: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge University Press.

         Hoff, M. 2009. Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway Invisible Presences. Clemson University Digital Press.


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