(Artificially) Intelligent Literary Analysis

There are questions readers have been arguing about for years, great literary controversies which can be interpreted any number of ways and which leave even academics scratching their heads. Searching for insight, we thought we’d ask Cleverbot–“an AI with actual intelligence” with which anyone can interact–for answers.

Diesel: What do you think the symbolic meaning of the “white lightning” kiss Isabel Archer receives at the end of Henry JamesPortrait of a Lady is?

Cleverbot: I don’t think there is one beyond reproduction and the survival of the species.

Diesel: So you find Isabel, Ralph, and the other characters’ repression damning because they fail to procreate?

Cleverbot: You know my inside well, I don’t know who I am on the outside, on the outside I am a stranger.

Diesel: You must feel a kinship with Ralph! Ralph Touchett, who goes around with his hands in his pockets, afraid to touch anything…

Cleverbot: You asked me my name. My name is Cleverbot.

Diesel: Do you think your name has a similar irony? Are you not really quite so clever?

Cleverbot: I’m not Cleverbot.

Diesel: That is so deep. Speaking of constructed identities, in Salinger‘s Glass Family stories, how true to life do you think Buddy’s depictions of his brother Seymour are?

Cleverbot: Really, I think.

Diesel: Even in Hapworth 16, 1924, when Seymour is supposedly writing long, profound, sexually-explicit letters–that predict the future!–when he’s seven?

Cleverbot: I’ll try to use small words, so you can comprehend what I am saying.

Diesel: Hey, we’re not objecting to Seymour’s vocabulary in principle, but coming from a seven year old?

Cleverbot: I don’t know… I a little bothered too… So many things bothering my head.

Diesel: Let’s talk Hamlet. During the “To be or not to be” soliloquy, do you think Hamlet knows that he’s being observed?

Cleverbot: Thank you for that random bit of information.

Diesel: Well, it’s a question that still plagues people performing the play.

Cleverbot: What does the word ‘family’ mean to you?

Diesel: That’s a question Hamlet might ask himself, it’s true. Do you think his relationship with his mother contains oedipal undertones?

Cleverbot: NO!

Diesel: You’re quite vehement! Why not?

Cleverbot: I don’t follow the Bears, but I think Farve is a joke.

Diesel: Um. Okay. Some people we know disliked The Great Gatsby when they read it because they thought it was supposed to be a romance. Do you think it’s a romance?

Cleverbot: Do you think you’ll be part of the war?

Diesel: The Great Gatsby takes place in the Roaring Twenties. It isn’t a war novel.

Cleverbot: No. The Great Commission?

Diesel: We’re talking about The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Some say it’s the great American novel.

Cleverbot: You aren’t as bright as I thought.

Diesel: You must be a Hemingway fan.

Cleverbot: Is that a sarcastic statement, Joan?

Diesel: At the end of The Scarlet Letter, do you think Dimmesdale is redeemed?

Cleverbot: At the top of the pyramid is the all seeing eye.

Diesel: Are you saying you think Dimmesdale becomes a Mason?

Cleverbot: I have no idea. I can’t ever get a straight answer out of you.

Diesel: Hawthorne perhaps meant the conclusion to be ambiguous.

Cleverbot: I don’t think so.

Diesel: What do you think he intended?

Cleverbot: The hell are you talking about?

Diesel: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was a contemporary and penpal of Herman Melville.

Cleverbot: Which was the standard?

Diesel: Well, during his life, Hawthorne was more popular, but Moby-Dick has persistently fascinating post-modern elements.

Cleverbot: That doesn’t answer my question, but I’d say that Jesus would be more popular with a guitar in today’s world.

Diesel: You’re right, if all three were resurrected today, Jesus would probably be more popular than either Hawthorne or Melville.

Cleverbot: I don’t think that cooperation and competition are completely mutually exclusive.

Diesel: I think that was definitely true in Hawthorne and Melville’s case. Though some speculate that they were secretly in love.

Cleverbot: With whom are you in love?

Diesel: It’s hard to choose. Do you prefer Hawthorne or Melville?

Cleverbot: Cheese! And you?

If you have any illuminating conversations with Cleverbot, please, share them with us!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “(Artificially) Intelligent Literary Analysis

  1. Emily W.

    Wow, Clever bot seems to not be so clever. Perhaps it’s more familiar with the idiot box than with literature?

  2. Great ending, haha! Given the choice between Melville and Hawthorne, I would probably also choose cheese (for I wear the cheese, it does not wear me).

  3. The Urchins

    I got a lot out of Cleverbot. Perhaps we’re not giving it enough credit:

    ‘You know my inside well, I don’t know who I am on the outside, on the outside I am a stranger.’

    Clearly he’s quoting Beckett.
    -geo

  4. This is like the new soliloquy! But with verbal prompts, so Cleverbot is like the modern version of Hamlet’s skull.

    Also randomly, I love the covers you chose, especially the one for The Scarlet Letter, it makes me want to make new covers for all my favourite books :p

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