6.7 Soliloquy Length

The mean soliloquy length for the six characters was calculated according to two different measures: length in words and length in sentences. The two graphs are figures 33 and 34 respectively. As these two graphs show such close similarity, trend lines have only been calculated for mean soliloquy length in words. This graph is figure 35.

Mean Soliloquy Length (Words) Mean Soliloquy Length (Sentences) Figure 35: Mean Soliloquy Length Trends (Words)

There are two points that should be made about these results. The first is that like all the other means, they only refer to the whole chapter, and thus obscure any internal variations. In fact, the soliloquies range in length from one sentence to many. This only gives an overall picture. The second is that these results would, under normal circumstances, be treated with some caution, since in many cases the average is only from a few soliloquies. This is largely due to the gradual tendency as the book progresses to longer and longer soliloquies, and hence fewer per chapter. However, the good synchronization of the two graphs removes much of the force of this objection, as inconsistencies due to the small sample size would produce greater divergences than those displayed here. Thus these graphs are probably faithful records of the true average situation.

The similarity of figures 33 and 34 is quite remarkable. The only points of significant difference are Jinny in chapter III, Neville in chapter V, and Louis in chapter VI, and these are all differences in magnitude of change, not in direction. These divergences are caused by fluctuations in the sentence length for the characters concerned, producing a measure of soliloquy length in sentences that is at variance with that in words. For proof of this, compare the relevant points on figures 31, 33, and 34; in each case, the variation is linked with an inverse change in the sentence length for the relevant character.

The graphs show first a uniform rise for all the characters from their short soliloquies in chapter I to a peak some eight to ten times larger in chapter III, as the characters grow from childhood to young adulthood, and their soliloquies move from the isolated sense impressions in the early pages - "I see ...", "I hear ...", "Look ..." - to the later, longer, and more connected passages. Then comes a sharp drop to chapter IV, almost back to the level of chapter I. This time, the lower count reflects not sense impressions but the use of short soliloquies, as the characters come as close as they ever get to dialogue, and join in a barely articulated communion. As Louis puts it, "Now let us issue from the darkness of solitude" (p. 88). Next comes a rise to chapters VI or VII, depending on the character, showing the more carefully planned speech of middle age. The prelude describes noon, the height of the character's lives.

All the characters except Bernard and Neville drop to chapter VII. In this chapter, in which each character speaks once only, Bernard's soliloquy is long because his introspection is always more elaborate than that of the others, reflecting his considered use of speech. In long, definite passages filled with sentences like "But let me consider. The drop falls; another stage has been reached. Stage upon stage" (p. 133), he evaluates his life, sheds one of his "life-skins" (p. 134). Neville's soliloquy is slightly longer in this chapter than his average for the previous chapter for two reasons: firstly it contains an interlude to do with a tutorial group held in his rooms (p. 141 - 2); and secondly, he tends to go off on not particularly relevant tangents, perhaps appropriate for an academic. In fact, both Neville and Bernard have a tendency to externalize and generalize their inner feelings, to talk not just about themselves, but also about the world, people, concepts, other characters. For this reason their soliloquies in this chapter are markedly longer than those of their companions. Finally, a uniform drop to chapter VIII can be seen. Once again the characters exchange their short soliloquies, although this time they are even less convincing as communication. The union is less complete, the ragged edges fuse less willingly.

Bernard's score remains high throughout, and he has by far the highest overall score. (This is undoubtedly influenced again by his chapter-long soliloquy in chapter IX). Any other ranking of the characters according to their positions in the main body of the graph is very difficult due to the extreme closeness of the individual graphs. According to the totals for the whole text, therefore, Bernard comes out highest, followed after a long gap by Neville, then Jinny and Rhoda, or Rhoda and Jinny, depending on which of the graphs is used, and Louis and Susan last. Figure 35 shows that the trend for all the characters is upwards.

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