- The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare, and: William Shakespeare 1564–1616
Two sites on the Bard, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (MIT Site) and William Shakespeare 1564–1616 (Matsuoka Site), provide quick and relatively easy access to information on Shakespeare. The MIT Site was the first site to provide free access to the complete works of Shakespeare on-line, while the Matsuoka Site provides a more comprehensive list of links to the various home pages that exist on William Shakespeare. Depending on the type of information one wishes to access, either site can be a tremendous resource.
Visually, both sites are “no-nonsense” and neither site contains many illustrations or photographs, although the sites linked to either of the two sites often do include both. Maneuverability within each of the sites is fairly straightforward and comprehensible for the user and each site requests suggestions and feedback for future improvements. Both sites appear to be maintained and updated fairly regularly.
The MIT Site offers not only the complete works of Shakespeare on-line, it also provides the ability to search the complete works through a key word search. Another unique characteristic of this site is the Shakespeare discussion area. This feature allows readers to interact with each other regarding Shakespeare and to discuss anything from the use of the Prince Hal/Falstaff story line in the film My Own Private Idaho to desperate pleas for help from high school students who have yet to write their English papers on Romeo & Juliet. The discussion area is arranged by play title and employs a few types of icons to indicate the content of the inquiry. Otherwise, the queries appear in the order they are posted. Because the queries and messages can add up rather quickly, the discussion area also features an archive section for older messages. At times, the issues raised for discussion on some of the plays ranged from scintillating and thought-provoking to the banal and even asinine. What would improve this feature of the site is more categorization of the types of discussions being conducted rather than only listing the messages under the umbrella of the play title.
The on-line access of Shakespeare’s complete works provided by the MIT Site can also be useful to directors who wish to edit and/or cut a version of a play for performance and provide this version for the cast and crew. Likewise, actors making cuts to monologues can appreciate the ability to download and cut and paste a monologue to fit strict audition time limits. Scholars and students will be attracted to the key word search for its ease and quickness in locating passages or familiar quotations. The MIT Site also provides a listing of other Shakespeare resources on the Internet that includes The International Globe Center; Shakespeare courses (and sometimes syllabuses) conducted in either a conventional setting or on-line; Shakespeare on Film; and Shakespeare Festivals (if a home page is available). The MIT Site seems most useful to those who want access to the works of Shakespeare and the ability to search the works quickly and to those who enjoy discussing their thoughts and ideas with others about the Shakespeare canon and all its derivatives.
The Matsuoka Site encompasses a larger array of material than the MIT Site and impressively links its site with many other sites on Shakespeare. Through the Matsuoka Site, one can access the complete works of Shakespeare as well as secondary types of information such as biographical data, a time-line of coinciding events at the time of the plays’ publications, and monologue files for men and women to name only a few. Related topics and areas of interest are also linked with the Matsuoka Site. For example, this site provides a link to the Renaissance Forum—an electronic, refereed journal specializing in early modern English literary and historical scholarship to which Renaissance scholars can submit articles for publication and find a platform for scholarly/theoretical debate in...