Identify Themes within a Text

Introduction 

This example uses this Recipe to identify simple themes within a sample text.

It applies a recipe to real textual example which is freely available on the Internet so you can do the steps yourself and see the results.

Exercise Steps 
  1. This exercise uses Volume 2 of Thomas Macaulay's History of England which can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg.
  2. Run the TAPoR List Words Tool to generate a word list sorted by frequency. The result should resemble the following:
     Word       Count 
     The   ---- 3591 
    Of    ---- 2057
    And   ---- 1360
    To    ---- 1234
    A     ---- 850
    Was   ---- 848
    In    ---- 758
    Had   ---- 686
    Been  ---- 265
    Be    ---- 255
    Not   ---- 246
    At    ---- 240
    On    ---- 213
    From  ---- 212
    Who   ---- 201
    They  ---- 187
    Their ---- 174
    All   ---- 153
    King  ---- 139
  1. Run the TAPoR List Words Tool again, applying a list of words to exclude from the list. One useful stop list, the Glasgow stop words list, is available here. The result should be similar to:
     Word            Count 
     King        ---- 139
     Great       ---- 115
    Parliament  ---- 92
    England     ---- 86
    House       ---- 83
    Men         ---- 81
    Time        ---- 75
    Government  ---- 74
    Charles     ---- 73
    Power       ---- 68
    Party       ---- 66
    Public      ---- 59
    Years       ---- 57
    France      ---- 56
    Long        ---- 56
    English     ---- 55
    Court       ---- 54
    Commons     ---- 53
    State       ---- 52
    Church      ---- 51
    New         ---- 46
    Man         ---- 46
    Country     ---- 46
    
  2. Now that we have found some interesting words to explore, let's see how these are used within the context of the text.
  3. Using the TAPoR Find Words - Concordance Tool will list places in the text that a particular word appears. 
  4. This search returns a list of these key words and the five words on either side of the target word. Several themes and paths for further exploration emerge from this process:
  5. How is power referred to in the text? Use the TAPoR Find Collocates Tool to explore the use of the word power. 
  6. What is the author's attitude towards the common man? Use the TAPoR Find Words - Concordance Tool and input Man as the target. 
  7. What is the author's attitude towards the monarchy? Use TAPoR Find Collocates Tool to see how often the words 'King' and 'Charles' occur together. 
  8. Thus, these simple tools can easily identify the themes of power, monarchy, the common man and time in Macaulay's History of England.