Quotation Archer, Dawn, Gillings, Mathew. 2020. Depictions of deception: A corpus-based analysis of five Shakespearean characters. Language and Literature: International Journal of Stylistics. 29 (3), 246-274.




Drawing on the Enhanced Shakespearean Corpus: First Folio Plus and using corpus-based methods, this article explores, quantitatively and qualitatively, Shakespeare’s depictions of five deceptive characters (Aaron, Tamora, Iago, Lady Macbeth and Falstaff). Our analysis adopts three strands: firstly, statistical keywords relating to each character are examined to determine what this tells us about their natures more generally. Secondly, the wordlists produced for each of the five characters are drawn upon to determine the extent to which they make use of linguistic features that have been correlated with, or linked to, acts of deliberate deception in real-world contexts. Thirdly, we make use of the results identified during the two aforementioned strands by using them to identify particular (sequences of) turns that are worthy of more detailed analysis. Here, we are primarily interested in (a) whether these keywords/deceptive indicators cluster or co-occur and (b) whether these interactions are the same as those identified by other scholars exploring depictions of deception in Shakespeare from a literary perspective. The findings indicate that deception-related features are indeed used collectively/in close proximity, by Shakespeare, at points where a character speaks to other characters disingenuously. They also suggest that Shakespeare’s deceptive depictions do change stylistically, from character to character, in line with those characters’ different characterisations and situations, that Shakespeare draws on atypical language features – such as self-oriented references – when it comes to some of his depictions of deception and that Shakespeare uses these various stylistic features to achieve a range of dramatic effect(s).


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Language and Literature
Language English
Title Depictions of deception: A corpus-based analysis of five Shakespearean characters
Volume 29
Number 3
Year 2020
Page from 246
Page to 274
Reviewed? Y
URL http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0963947020949439
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0963947020949439
Open Access N


Gillings, Mathew (Details)
Archer, Dawn (Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom)
Institute for English Business Communication (Mautner) (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
6604 Applied linguistics (Details)
6611 Linguistics (Details)
6633 Computational linguistics (Details)
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