Inkle and Yarico Text Analysis – Jonathan Pham

How did Inkle and Yarico reflect a growing abolitionist movement?

Inkle and Yarico

Inkle and Yarico is a tragic tale in which Thomas Inkle, a stranded merchant, and a Native American woman named Yarico fall in love after she cares for him in his loss. The tale turns when Inkle returns to Barbados, and realizing his stronger desire for money, sells Yarico away as a slave. As a tragedy, romance, and unique tale of forbidden and foreign love, this story has been rewritten and retold throughout the years, varying according each different author, with each variation reflecting the intent and difference of the time. Unsurprisingly, it is often told as  a moral tale reflecting the unfairness in which Yarico is treated with. The particular version I will be using is known as “Inkle and Yarico,” and is from a collection of poems known as “Barbadoes,” a compilation of poems about Barbados itself. This specific edition was published in Belfast, Ireland, in the Belfast News-Letter. in 1833.

This version of the classic tale is much shorter, with no direct references to any characters besides Inkle and Yarico themselves. Instead, it is more heavily focused on the race of which each character belongs to, as well as what traits are attributed to them. In my text analysis, I will be analyzing this variation as well as the metadata for this text in order to answer the question: How did Inkle and Yarico reflect a growing abolitionist movement? By looking at the emphasis on race and a more broad reference to the characters, the reasoning for these variations will provide our answer.

Metadata and the Abolitionist Movement

Upon looking into the historical background for this text, Belfast was going through a period time when pro-abolitionism was on the rise. Being the capital of Ireland, Belfast had many wealthy merchants and land-owners who had the ability to buy and ship slaves, and in 1786, Belfast was nearly turned into a slave port, until a rich merchant and abolitionist known as Thomas McCabe stopped this ruling. Afterwards, various groups and organizations would follow under this idea of abolitionism, which would follow the idea if it being more common in news media. This bring in our edition of “Inkle and Yarico,” which is more heavily focused on race and broader attributes, instead of the specifics of the actual story itself. It is short and easy to read, perfect for people reading the newspaper, as well as easy to understand without prior knowledge of Inkle and Yarico. Upon using online analysis tools, the emphasis on race will be further highlighted with the frequency at which they use certain words, as well as how it seems pro-abolitionist.

Text Analysis and Word Frequency

The variations in this edition switch the focus from the faults of Inkle to the faults of the white-man, while still keeping elements of tragedy and love within the story.

The first tool I used was the Word Counter in order to receive a better idea of my document and the points the author was focusing on. The poem itself lacked any usage of the names “Yarico” or “Inkle.” Inkle is primarily portrayed as the “the white man” with “white” being one of the most common words in the text, as well as that particular trigram. There is no direct reference to Yarico, with only a few scarce uses of “indian” and  “Hebe.” This is changed when stop-words are allowed to be analyzed, wherein “her” and “she” become the most common words, signifying that the poem more heavily focuses on Yarico’s plight. These ambiguous references and wording are used on purpose in order to create a more broad perspective on the treatment of Native American people by the white man. Following up on this, I used the Word Tree to see the context in which the words referring to Yarico and Inkle were used in. For the phrases “her,” it is almost always followed up by some feature of her or something that is a part of her background. The text is short and diverse in it’s wording, so it can’t be seen from the Word Counter, but by reading the text, Yarico’s beautiful features are constantly mentioned, as well as the things that she is giving up in order to leave for Yarico, such as her “liberty,” her “kindred, her siblings, and other such things. Putting it in reverse supports this idea of leaving, with “left” being the most common word preceding “her.” Looking at the word “him” in a reverse word tree also supports this, with the most common preceding word being “for.”

A brighter Venus of a darker hue. (5) (In reference to Yarico)

Upon using Voyant tools, the most frequent words are white, love, day, gentle, and indian. It supports the fact of Inkle and Yarico as this tragic love story, supporting again the long-lasting appeal of this fable. It also paints a picture of Yarico as this beautiful and amazing person. As stated before, it maintains this idea of a beautiful love story, but by using “white” and “Indian” instead of the characters name it forces the reader to think on a broader topic.

I compared my text to the Colman version using SameDiff, as they’re more similar in size, as well as don’t have as many characters. In common, both texts had romantic words such as “love,” “heart,” “maid,” and “lover,” with their most common shared words being “man” and “love.” In terms of differences, only my text mention the term “white,” while the Colman version has no direct reference to the European race. Their is a shift in focus, where the Colman version is more for entertainment, whereas this version wants to highlight race, and keep the entertainment aspect short.


This version of Inkle and Yarico represents the growing abolitionist movement in Ireland during the late 18th century. With Inkle and Yarico itself being such a popular tale, the subtle differences and references that are made seem very intentional. The shorter format and poem form allow for easy reading for the audience, as well as by maintaining some original love story elements.