Inkle and Yarico is a story originating from London, England about a colonizer who is saved by a native. They fall in love, he brings her back to England, and then promptly sells her as a slave. It first appears in Richard Ligon’s A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados, and became quite popular afterwards through reproductions. After transcribing “A Poetical Version of the Much-Admired Story of Inkle and Yarico”, I put it through Word Counter, Same Diff, and Word Tree to answer the question: what impacts do metadata decisions have on the effectiveness of a literary work?
From Word Counter the most popular words were eyes, Inkle, breast, and heart. It is interesting that Yarico’s name does not come up in the top words list. The text puts emphasis on Inkle’s name and Yarico’s body parts: eyes, breast, heart, but not Yarico’s name. Perhaps this reveals that the text is misogynistic and racist in that it objectifies the indigenous woman’s body while valuing the white man’s identity.
Using Same Diff to compare Richard Steele’s “Story of Inkle and Yarico” and “A Poetical Version of the Much-Admired Story of Inkle and Yarico” yields man, women, Arietta, young as words that are only in the Steele Version and breast, thro, rous, heart as words that are only in the poetic version. This shows that the Steele version is more about Arietta’s framing of the Yarico’s narrative for her feminist agenda while the poetic version is more about Yarico’s physicality.
Word Tree reveals that Yarico is more commonly referred Indian or Indian maid than by her name. This does not happen to Inkle at all. His race is probably never mentioned. This is perhaps to dehumanize or alienate Yarico as being a separate race and separate gender from the white male European which is considered the norm by the eurocentric europeans who wrote and consumed this piece of literature.
Overall, by analyzing the passage with web based text analysis tools reveals that the themes or anti-slavery, feminism, and racism can overlap. Just because the work is anti-slavery does not mean it isn’t also racist. This can at times make a literary work more effective as seen in the case of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. However, that does not guarantee that this piece of work in particular is effective.
For metadata analysis I looked at the genre, point of view, Yarico’s race, if she forgives Inkle, and audience. With a length of 1154 words, this poem is not short by any means, but it is not excessively long. Since it was in the 19th Century Children’s Literature and Childhood Collection and published by New Lady’s Magazine, I assumed that the target audience was children and women. This is interesting combined with the fact that the story is unclear on whether or not Yarico forgives Inkle or not and is told in third person perspective. With an audience of children usually stories have clear morals and by having uncertainty about how deeply Inkle wronged Yarico makes the lesson of the story unclear. With an audience of women it would be more conductive to use first person for the women to sympathize with Yarico and to give Yarico more autonomy as a character. I found it interesting that the metadata reveals that the writing choices do not fit the audience, creating a less effective piece of literature.