Throughout the semester, our digital studies class has studied different features of the internet as well as the tools that comes along with it. For our final project I decided to use a text analysis called “Voyant Tools”. This tool in particular interests me because it allows anyone to analyze the most used words in a novel with lighting speed. For this project, I decided to analyze the words used most often in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. I chose to analyze the words in these two books because they have similar themes of family, friendship, and love. My hypothesis here is that even though they have similar themes, the words that are used most often in them are going to be completely different. I would like to prove that authors can create similar themes without needing to use the exact same words in their novels.

The first step in this project was to find a PDF of each book on the internet (because these are two popular books, I figured this would not be an issue). When I found each book, I copy and pasted the full version of each book into Voyant Tools and set the terms that I wanted to show to 55. I did this first with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The first thing I noticed was that four out of the top five most used words were character names (from most often used to least: Harry, Ron, Hagrid, and Hermione). When I first decided to do this experiment, I must admit I did not think about this as being an issue, so for the sake of the experiment I am going to exclude all character names from my analysis. So, excluding names the 5 most used words in Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone are, “said”, “know”, “got”, “like”, and “professor”. As for Bridge to Terabithia, the top five most used words (excluding Leslie, Jess, and Belle) are, “said”, “like”, “just”, “know”, and “got”. As you can see by the word counts, if we exclude the names of characters, four out of the five most used words are the exact same between these two books (and J.K. Rowling’s sixth most used word is “just”, making these findings almost identical). This is not at all what I was expecting to find. I thought that each book would have different word despite having very similar themes, however, it seems that even though they have similar themes, their top five most used words having nothing to do with the theme at all. The five most used words in each of these books seem to be filler words that simply progress the story along and having nothing to do with the theme that is being portrayed.


In order to be as thorough as possible with this experiment, I have decided to widen my search for terms. Instead of just looking for the top five most used terms I have decided to extend my search and use the whole world bubble that Voyant Tools created. I think this will give me a better understanding of which other words that are highly used rather than only seeing the filler words. I think this should change some of the findings. Again, excluding the names of characters Rowling uses the words, “eye”, “head”, “look”, “come”, “good”, “time” and “think” very often throughout the novel. In my opinion, none of these words really connect to the theme of family, friendship, and love that we are looking for, despite it being such a prominent theme throughout the entire novel. If we pivot over to Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, we see in the word scramble there are words such as “miss”, “head, “school”, “girl(s)”, “came” and “right”. Similar to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, these words I would argue also have no correlation with the over arching theme of family, friendship, and love. There are a lot more words in the word jumble that I did not list, but if we take a look they also do not correlate with the theme. Despite each book having such a prominent and common theme, neither world jumble produces the words “family, “friends”, or “love”.

Most people would probably think this is odd to not have used more words that relate to the theme an author is trying to convey, however, I think this is a sign of a great writer. When an author does not have to flat out say their theme but can portray it throughout character actions, context clues, and visualizations it shows the talent and skill that that author possesses. I have even more of an appreciation for each author’s talent knowing that they were able to create such famous and copied works and such hard hitting themes, without even having to say it. While my hypothesis was that even with two authors having similar themes, the words they utilize will be completely different, I think it is even more impressive to create such hard hitting themes while using words that do not even relate to the theme. No one can question that each novel is centered around the strength of love between family and friends, and that was done without even needing to use those words.

            The impact digital tools have on our ability to analyze texts in astonishing. People can always analyze texts through the traditional way of reading, annotating, and researching, but using a new digital tool opens up another way to analyze and compare different texts. In this new modern age of technology there are endless tools out there that can help us create new ways to do analog tasks. Someone could always count by hand the words that are used most often in a certain novel, but they task is tedious and comes with a lot of room of error. Having a tool such as Voyant Tools allows people to analyze books in not just a new way but an easy way. Using a tool like this to analyze books is even simpler than reading the book and gives people new a helpful information that was never available before. Voyant Tools has given me a new perspective on how to analyze texts. Tools like this allows for even more in depth and understand of themes and how they are portrayed in books. I tried to analyze themes between two books using Voyant Tools and in the process I found out that themes in books do not always have to be completely obvious to still have a hard-hitting point. The text analysis tool, Voyant Tools, allows people to have a deeper understanding of how themes are portrayed within texts. Even though my hypothesis did not hold up, I think I found out something even more powerful through the use of digital tools.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *