Over at her blog, Lee Smith has found something fun to do on a rainy February day. She’s collected every time somebody insulted somebody else in The Lord of the Rings. To nobody’s surprise, “fool” is the most common way to insult someone. There’s more give-and-take than I’d thought, though. If we define “calling someone a fool” as a relationship, it makes a fairly complex network.
Lee confines her attentions to insulting people to their face. This has an elegant directness, but it misses some things that interest me, like Sam calling himself a fool. I’m going to expand on Lee’s definition for the sake of entertainment and include any time someone calls someone a fool, or a group of up to ten others.
The network looks like this:
I have omitted two trivial subgraphs, involving Shagrat and Gorbag and Wormtongue and Hàma. I was expecting the graph to fall into two tight cliques with loose links between them, but that turns out not to be the case. Saruman’s insults at the end of the book tie everything together neatly into a tightly-bound community of disregard.
Here’s a table of fool-counts, sorted by the fraction of their arrows that point outwards.
And here’s the Queen of Soul, misapprehending the topology: