Frankenstein's Frequencies: 123

Frankenstein's Frequencies 123

The drawing on the left is from Harper's Bazaar "'Seventy-Six' polonaise walking suit" from 1867, and the following three images represent body part mentions in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, with different manipulations demonstrating different modes of conveying the numbers. "Eyes" appear the most frequently at 123 times.

Art Piece (Carrie Roy): Framed print 23” x 11”

A frankenstein info graphic and methods for manipulations.

Literary Perspective (Catherine DeRose): What does it mean to be human? This question lies at the heart of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). The increasingly eloquent creature is consistently denied human companionship for most of the novel. Initially, it is his physical appearance that frightens people away from him. Frankenstein’s Frequencies" 123 is one attempt at seeing Frankenstein’s body – in other words, the human body as it is emphasized in the novel. The findings show that the eyes, lips, and hands—which have a classical and artistic tradition for being the most expressive parts of the body—are the most frequently mentioned body parts in the novel.  

Statistics Perspective (Fred Boehm):

As with other pieces in the Victorian Eyes exhibition, "Frankenstein's Frequencies: 123" has at its heart questions of how a viewer experiences graphic representations of quantitative results. One set of quantitative results - namely, the raw counts of body part words - inspires the three distorted images. Our three approaches to body part distortion invite the viewer to consider the role of dimension scaling in their experiences of the images.

From left to right, the first distorted image results from increasing the areas of body parts by a number that's proportional to the raw word count of the corresponding body part. The second distorted image results from increasing both height and width of body parts each by a number that's proportional to the raw word counts. Given the fact that area is the mathematical product of height times width, the second distorted image effectively increases a body part's area by the square of a number that's proportional to the corresponding body part's raw word count. The last distorted image results from using a larger constant of proportionality when relating body part sizes to raw word counts.

In these ways, "Frankenstein's Frequencies: 123" introduces the viewer to issues that many statisticians are actively examining. Two individuals who have made tremendous contributions to this rapidly growing area of statistics include Yale University's Edward Tufte and Amanda Cox of The New York Times.

Word List of body parts