3,000 Illustrations of Shakespeare’s Work Are Now Available is one of the greatest places on the web for education. The site hosts over 700 free audio books, 1,200 lecture from top universities, 1,150 movies, and 1,200 online courses. A student could spend months on this material and possibly get more out of it that a typical college semester.

One of its latest additions is a collection of 3,000 illustrations from Shakespeare’s complete works. Various artists such as Charles Knight, Kenny Meadows, John Gilbert, and H.C. Selous, all contribute their interpretations of Shakespeare’s text through images. Viewing the artistic pieces along with reading the text “will develop an appreciation for how the plays communicate differently to the different artists.”

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The image above is created by Kenny Meadows and is meant to depict a scene from The Tempest. Underlining the majority of Shakespeare’s work is a thick sense of drama, mostly leaning towards tragedy instead of comedy.

We can see that the focal point in the image is the conflict between the tempest and the knight. Darkness, strange creatures, and conflict dominate the scene. Yet there are some animals that are laughing, one that is stuck in a cup, and another who looks just as confused as we are about the image. The artist seems to be trying to capture the conflict of Shakespeare while still including the comical, zany, and just plain weird elements that also come along with Shakespeare’s work.

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John Gilbert is known from bringing realism to Shakespeare’s work. Above is a very detailed, deep, and complex depiction of King Lear. This image is meant to “show his skill for creating believable individuals, rather than broad archetypes.” What is most interesting is having the image right above the dialogue. Reading the work along with these occasional illustrations can certainly help convey a deeper sense of understanding than the text alone.

Openculture has a massive collection of culturally significant work to browse through. The recent addition of Shakespeare’s illustrated work only adds to the already outstanding library of information. Next time you are looking for a new audio or ebook to consume, consider!


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