An Analysis Of A Collection Of Fairy Tales


Published on

A presentation of an analysis of fairytales by the Brothers Grimm. Presented as part of a coursework for the MA Digital Humanities, King's College London

Published in: Education
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

An Analysis Of A Collection Of Fairy Tales

  1. 1. An Analysis of a Collection of Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm Matteo Starri MADH – 2007-2008
  2. 2. Topics to be Covered <ul><li>Introduction to the text itself </li></ul><ul><li>Tools used for the research </li></ul><ul><li>Possible patterns detectable with these </li></ul><ul><li>Possible interaction of the patterns </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Tales Collected by the Grimms <ul><li>Kinder- und Hausm ä rchen </li></ul><ul><li>Literally: Children's and Household Tales , commonly known as Grimms’ Fairy Tales </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Tales Collected by the Grimms <ul><li>1 st Edition: 1812-1814, 2 voll., 156 tales </li></ul><ul><li>2 nd Edition: 1819-1822, 3 voll., 170 tales </li></ul><ul><li>… </li></ul><ul><li>7 th Edition: 1857, 211 tales </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Tales Collected by the Grimms <ul><li>Continuous additions and subtractions throughout the editions </li></ul><ul><li>“ Small Edition” in 1825, 50 tales, for child readers </li></ul>
  6. 6. Size of the corpus <ul><li>64 tales (not specified in the file why this many and why these ones) </li></ul><ul><li>8.097 paragraphs </li></ul><ul><li>100.761 words counted by Word (102.962 by MonoConc Pro 2.2) </li></ul><ul><li>(the introductory part of the original file and the titles list have been excluded) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Complete list of the tales included (file screenshots)
  8. 8. The tool used <ul><li>MonoConc Pro 2.2, KWIC-based program by Michael Barlow </li></ul><ul><li>Corpus loaded as .txt file, modified from the original downloaded from the Project Gutenberg website (to cut heading and to avoid repetitions in titles) [ x ] [ screenshot ] </li></ul>
  9. 9. Preliminary research <ul><li>Frequency list, sorted in frequency order </li></ul><ul><li>Q: What does it say at a first glance? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Frequency list (first four screenshots, 120 most occurring words)
  11. 11. Preliminary research <ul><li>Past tenses </li></ul><ul><li>Speech verbs </li></ul><ul><li>Recurring types of characters </li></ul><ul><li>All these features are typical of the genre </li></ul>
  12. 12. Preliminary research and delineation of possible patterns <ul><li>That two </li></ul><ul><li>Two is not the plural of a / an / one </li></ul><ul><li>So why is two used so often? </li></ul>
  13. 13. Preliminary research and delineation of possible patterns <ul><li>King is the highest occurring noun, man is the second, and father is the third </li></ul><ul><li>Is this saying anything to us? </li></ul><ul><li>Are these words related? </li></ul>
  14. 14. First pattern: numbers <ul><li>Two occurs 149 times </li></ul><ul><li>What about other cardinals? </li></ul>
  15. 15. First pattern: numbers <ul><li>Occurrences generally decrease as numbers get higher </li></ul><ul><li>Clear exceptions: seven and twelve </li></ul><ul><li>But these are concentrated in very few tales </li></ul>
  16. 16. First pattern: numbers <ul><li>The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids , The Seven Ravens , Snowdrop , The Valiant Little Tailor </li></ul><ul><li>The Twelve Dancing Princesses , The Twelve Huntsmen </li></ul><ul><li>In these tales the number is often used as part of the name of the characters, as in the titles </li></ul>
  17. 17. First pattern: numbers <ul><li>Two and three are the ones occurring more often </li></ul><ul><li>Relatively often associated with characters </li></ul><ul><li>In these cases, though, they sometimes delineate a single “actor”. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Related patterns: numbers and familiar relations <ul><li>Out of 143 occurrences, in 25 cases two is associated with familiar relations </li></ul><ul><li>Children (10), brothers (7), daughters (4), sisters (2), [King’s] sons (1), sons (1) </li></ul><ul><li>Children are given positive attributes, or neutral, while brothers are represented badly (6/7 times) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Related patterns: numbers and familiar relations <ul><li>Two daughters (4) are either both bad (2), ore a good and a bad one (2) </li></ul><ul><li>When different, they are stepsisters, and one is ugly but loved because a proper child, while the beautiful one is hated being a stepdaughter (by evil parents) </li></ul><ul><li>When both bad, they are daughters of a new wife, and against a third, proper one (Cinderella) </li></ul>
  20. 20. Related patterns: numbers and familiar relations Frequency collocation for two (words occurring once or twice are not displayed)
  21. 21. Related patterns: numbers and familiar relations <ul><li>Out of 96 occurrences, only in 6 cases three is associated with familiar relations </li></ul><ul><li>Daughters (3), sons (2), brothers (1) </li></ul><ul><li>The daughters act always as a single actor, while for sons/brothers the third one (the youngest) is represented as good against the other two </li></ul>
  22. 22. Related patterns: numbers and familiar relations Frequency collocation for three (words occurring once or twice are not displayed)
  23. 23. First pattern: numbers <ul><li>Four (32) is used only 4 times related to brothers </li></ul><ul><li>Seven (52) is not used with familiar relations, but often delineates time: years (5), long years (3) </li></ul>
  24. 24. First pattern: numbers <ul><li>Is there any similarity in the use of cardinals and ordinals? </li></ul>
  25. 25. First pattern: numbers <ul><li>Ordinals are mainly used in connection with people and time-related expressions </li></ul><ul><li>Second (45): son (6), time (4) </li></ul><ul><li>Third (50): day, time, night (8), brother (2), son (1) </li></ul>
  26. 26. First pattern: numbers <ul><li>Ordinals can be grouped in terms of preservation or evolution in the narration </li></ul><ul><li>Example: when second is used in a group of more than 2, usually there is a repetition of previous events, or slight changes, while often is the third element (like son, brother, or day/night passed) that develops the story </li></ul>
  27. 27. First pattern: numbers <ul><li>Fifth (9) is equally used to preserve and evolve </li></ul><ul><li>Sixth (3) is always used between a fifth element and a seventh one </li></ul><ul><li>Seventh (6) usually brings innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Ninth (1), used with day , evolves the story after 8 similar days </li></ul>
  28. 28. Second pattern: familiar relations <ul><li>Father (153) is the most occurring word related to familiar connection between characters </li></ul><ul><li>Mother follows at 140 </li></ul><ul><li>Both mainly anticipated by possessives or positive attributes </li></ul>
  29. 29. Second pattern: familiar relations
  30. 30. Second pattern: familiar relations <ul><li>Familiarly-related characters are mainly given positive attributes </li></ul><ul><li>Dear / dearest is used 29 times, at every level </li></ul><ul><li>Relations between siblings are usually given age/order attributes: elder/eldest (6), little (8), second (3), youngest (2), </li></ul>
  31. 31. Second pattern: familiar relations <ul><li>Child / son / daughter are mainly given positive attributes, while their plurals are mainly ordered </li></ul><ul><li>Parents usually set the action, developed then by their children </li></ul><ul><li>This is particularly true for kings (and, less, queens), who mainly speak and rarely act, while princes and princesses do </li></ul>
  32. 32. Second pattern: familiar relations Collocation for king (274 occurrences)
  33. 33. Second pattern: familiar relations <ul><li>“ Improper” relatives (stepmothers, sisters and daughters) are not always clearly given bad attributes, but always act as evil </li></ul><ul><li>Most relations are on two levels (parents-sons). Three-level relations are very few and never characterized </li></ul><ul><li>There are no ucles, aunts, nephews or nieces </li></ul>
  34. 34. Overall Results <ul><li>Relatively poor information about the characters gained from the closer surroundings of the word, clear necessity of shifting from text to search results, back to the text and so on to understand characters </li></ul><ul><li>Animal characters frequent but basically not considered in the study because they do not follow the human relational scheme </li></ul>
  35. 35. Overall Results <ul><li>Not clear scheme identified about preservation/evolution in the narration of the events. Need for more data and better statistical tools </li></ul>
  36. 36. Possible Direction for Further Study <ul><li>A database could be built in order, for example, to relate characters, track their actions, and draw clear parallels between tales </li></ul><ul><li>More text (i.e. all KHM ) could be marked up and put in a database, analysed and compared to other tales from other traditions, to find common patterns, influences (from French tales, in this case), and maybe be used as reference for worldwide folk studies </li></ul>