Scalable Reading

dedicated to DATA: digitally assisted text analysis

...the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the Moon, whose Orb
Through Optic Glass the Tuscan Artist views
At Ev’ning from the top of Fesole,
Or in Valdarno, to descry new Lands,
Rivers or Mountains in her spotty Globe.
(Paradise Lost, 1. 286-91)

Quirky words

Nero, inmost, legitimate, pop

‘Nero’ ‘inmost’ ‘legitimate’, and ‘pop’ set up a web of associations that link King John and its source play, The Troublesome Raigne of Iohn, to Hamlet and King Lear. The Troublesome Raigne opens not unlike Richard II. A weak king is introduced by hearing a suit. Robert Falconbridge brings a suit against his mother and...

extravagant, summons, platform, and beckon

The word ‘extravagant’ combines with ‘beckon’, ‘platform’, and ‘summons’ to establish an odd link between Hamlet and Othello. Horatio refers to the disappearing ghost as an “extravagant and erring spirit” (Ham.1.1.154). Roderigo calls Othello an “extravagant and wheeling stranger” (Oth .1. 1. 136). The phonetic, semantic, and rhetorical resemblances between the two phrases are obvious....


‘Crowner,’ Shakespeare’s word for ‘coroner’ appears in two plays, and on both occasions it is associated with death by drowning.  It appears in the discussion of the two gravediggers about the cause of Ophelia’s death in the opening of the last act of Hamlet: 1. Clo. 1 Is she to be buried in Christian burial...