Changing Themes and Subjects in Inkle and Yarico

Inkle and Yarico is the story of an Englishman named Inkle who is on an expedition and comes upon America. There, he and the men he are with are ambushed by some Native Americans, but Inkle is saved by Yarico who keeps him safe and the pair fall in love. Eventually Inkle is able to get back to his boat with Yarico, but he decides to sell her into slavery despite her help. This is where the original version ends, but in Yarico to Inkle we get to see from Yarico’s perspective what happens next — her enslavement. We get to hear Yarico’s perspective on the story after the fact and we are informed of her hopes to be freed by Inkle. This later version comes from a perspective that is much more negative about slavery, and I set out to answer the question of how themes and subjects in the story changed relative to each other using some textual analysis tools.


The first tool that I used is the SameDiff tool which I used to compare my text to the one from Steele. I got to see the words that tied into both, which were mostly neutral words used in telling their story. I thought this was interesting as it established the baseline similarities of each story. Where it got more interesting was in the differences. In my version there is a lot of language that better describes the plight of Yarico such as words like slave or captive that came up in the context of her lamenting her experience, or words like hope and heaven that came up in the context of her hoping and praying to change. On the other hand, the Steele version has nothing that really speaks to the struggles that Yarico endures and instead has more language that speaks to things like the voyage or the ship as that is more relevant to Inkle.

When using the same tool, but comparing my text with the Ligon one my findings are similar. I noticed that the language used to describe their time together seems nicer in my text as it uses words like shades to describe where they were while the Ligon version is less descriptive of the setting and more focused on the people, specifically negative language about anyone who is different. The Ligon text also has the introduction of explicit references to Christianity instead of just things like God and heaven being mentioned and it adds in additional language regarding race, specifically words like “negroes” that were likely meant to be derogative at the time. Clearly Christianity was not an indicator of abolitionism


I also used the WordCounter tool to analyze my text, and I found that it uses a lot of trigrams that are directed towards Inkle, specifically cries for pity or references to their time together. In terms of single words, the most interesting one to show up frequently is probably heaven. This feels like it is likely a reference to Christianity, but Yarico also at one time mentions hoping her baby’s spirit flies to meet its God instead of just God, which suggests that the writer may just be viewing other religions through the lens of christianity. Aside from that the language is mostly in reference to Inkle or Yarico or Yarico’s enslavement which makes sense as that is what drives the story in this version.


Across the few versions I observed I didn’t notice any obvious patterns at first glance beyond a stronger effort to be more descriptive, specifically with regards to Yarico and her enslavement, when the version seemed more abolitionist. There would likely need to be a larger scale investigation with many more versions across a wide range of time to get a more detailed and useful conclusion.

Metadata Decisions

The metadata that I selected for my version of Inkle and Yarico was mostly based around what themes or subjects it focused on or the stances it held on them. I first noted that it was probably written from an abolitionist perspective — I couldn’t confirm this without additional background information I was unable to gather, but the content of the story makes it likely. Additionally, I noted that it had seemingly been written from a Christian perspective, and that it was from the point of view of Yarico. Another important aspect of the story was the concept of Yarico having a baby and in my version that baby was stillborn which I also included in my metadata. Beyond these factors I didn’t feel like my version significantly separated itself from others in terms of themes, so I decided not to include more information beyond basic descriptive facts like the length and publishing location which could be helpful for grouping similar research with a larger sample.