“A Case of Identity”
I made this word cloud of “A Case of Identity” using the website http://voyant-tools.org. I edited the stop words and added “Holmes” to the list because Holmes’ name is always the largest word on any Sherlock Holmes word cloud we have done in class. I figured it is obvious enough that Sherlock Holmes is important to the story, and does not need visual representation in this case. I found it very interesting that the next most used word after “holmes” was “little”. It was used 28 times in the story. I used the Word Trends tab to track the use and context of the word “little”. When the word was being used by Holmes it was most often used in a demeaning or sarcastic way. When he is talking to Miss Mary Sutherland, who is worried about how she will pay Holmes, he says: “your own little income, does it come out of the business?” This reinforces the idea that Sherlock Holmes is somewhat sexist. We originally saw this in “The Scandal in Bohemia” when he underestimates the woman. Here, he is implying that this woman can’t possibly make much due to the fact that she is a woman. It comes across in a very mocking tone, “your own little income”; not taking Miss Sutherland very seriously at all, as if her job was a joke. Holmes also refers to the case as “her little problem”. “Little” is also commonly used to describe things about Miss Sutherland. She takes out a little handkerchief and places her little stack of papers on the table.
“Little” is also used when Sherlock is speaking of how to solve the case. He tells Miss Sutherland to recall the little details about the man she was looking for. He tells her that the little details are always the most important.
I did not find it surprising that Hosmer and Windibank were the next largest words on the word cloud because they are the two most important characters in this story (spoiler alert: they’re the same person). The entire mystery revolved around finding out where Mr. Hosmer Angel was and we eventually find out that he was Mr. Windibank in disguise.
The fact that “man” appears more times than “woman” can also reflect the fact that Sherlock Holmes stories tend to be sexist. Most of the characters are men, with the exception of the damsel in distress, Miss Sutherland, who needs to the help of big strong Sherlock Holmes to figure out what happened to the man she couldn’t live without.
This word cloud does not tell much about the plot of the story, but it definitely gives a lot of information about the content of the story. It displays the underlying themes that appear throughout the story in a visually appealing way. Voyant does not give the creator much freedom to change the colors or shape of the word cloud which is disappointing, but I think the website does a good job of displaying the words in an appealing way.