Lyrical drama and the “turbid mountebanks”: Styles of dialogue in romantic and renaissance tragedy
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Critics have condemned English Romantic tragedies as a series of poor imitations of Renaissance tragedy. This paper tests such “literary-critical” questions through statistical comparisons of ten plays from each group. The measures chosen give evidence of a strong and consistent difference between the groups, going beyond historical changes in the language. The Romantic tragedies are more expository; the Renaissance ones include more commonplace interactions between characters. The later plays do not show the marked variations in function-word frequencies of their predecessors. Of the Renaissance plays, Shakespeare's show the closest affinity to the Romantic tragedies, and the most telling contrasts.
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Computers and the Humanities
Volume 28, Issue 2 , pp 63-86
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