Extracting Character Networks to Explore Literary Plot Dynamics
In this paper we apply network analysis to the study of literature. At the first stage of our investigation we automatically extract networks (graphs) of characters for each part of Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and peace using two different techniques for network creation. Then we evaluate these two techniques against a set of manually created gold standard networks. Finally, we use the method that demonstrated better performance in our evaluation to test a literary hypothesis about Tolstoy’s novel. The hypotheses we intended to prove was that the parts of the novel describing war (i.e. those where the battlefield or military units are the primary settings), have statistically lower density of interaction between characters, resulting in lower network density, higher network diameters and lesser average node degrees. By showing this correlation we mean to demonstrate the applicability of network analysis to computational research of fictional narrative (e.g. detection of tension changes in the plot).