Do Facts Matter on a CD-ROM?

By Ragen, Brian Abel | Papers on Language & Literature, Fall 2001 | Go to article overview

Do Facts Matter on a CD-ROM?


Ragen, Brian Abel, Papers on Language & Literature


Was Shakespeare's Macbeth set in the Falkland Islands? Or New Zealand? Or perhaps Australia? Did Shakespeare go to a University in Hong Kong? Did he shop at a Tesco's market? The editors at Columbia University Press may think so. At least, they have put their press's name on a CD-ROM (William Shakespeare's Macbeth, produced by James H. Bride, II; text edited by Gary Taylor) that makes all those connections, and more.

This CD-ROM's slick interface includes a coat of arms for every scene in the play. The user clicks on the coat of arms to see the text of the scene, along with glosses, video commentaries, summaries, etc. Users who recognize the arms will also see surprising connections made between each part of Macbeth and some person, country, or corporation. The witches on the heath are evidently out shopping to begin with, since they first appear with the arms of Richs Department Store of Atlanta, Georgia, but by the time they cry, "All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter," they have joined the Swiss Guard: that scene is marked with the arms Pope Pius XII (1939-58). Later in the play, there is a strong flavor of the South Seas: Lady Macbeth first appears with the arms of Australia, while the murder of Banquo is perpetrated under the arms of a New Zealander named Culham (there is a Kiwi in his crest), and Malcolm's army drops the boughs from Birnam Wood behind the banner the present Queen uses when she visits Aukland.

The arms linked to other scenes provide interesting interpretive keys to the action. Is Banquo's ghost musical? He appears with the arms of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Are Lady McDuff and her son murdered while trying to escape to the Orient, or just on the way to college? I suppose the arms of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which mark that scene, might justify either interpretation. Is the guilt-ridden Lady Macbeth smoking when she says, "Out, damned spot!"?: her mad scene is linked to the arms of Japan Tobacco, Ltd. Other scenes are marked with the arms of the College of Ophthalmologists (the march toward Birnam Wood), of Tesco Stores ("Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?"), and of the Falkland Islands (Macbeth kills young Siward). The Scottish play, it turns out, is even more universal in its significance than critics had thought.

Several other scenes are marked with the Royal Arms--as used by George I, or by Queen Anne, or by Queen Victoria and her successors. The ad for the companion CD-ROM on Romeo and Juliet shows the arms of Pope John XXIII and Pope Pius XII, though they were a Roncalli and a Pacelli, not a Montague and a Capulet. The movies accompanying the text also present some heraldic oddities: when the victorious Malcolm declares, "My Thanes and kinsmen, / Henceforth be Earls," there are shots of several coats of arms, including those of the King of France and the King of Spain--big promotions for a thane.

Few of the users of this CD-ROM may recognize all the arms. That very fact makes it all the more important for the editors to see to it that the connections are not absurd, to gloss the arms used as thoroughly as the Jacobean English. (Though one might also quarrel with some of the glosses that appear when the cursor moves over the text.) Shakespeare, of course, cared deeply about heraldry. He sought arms himself, and they were granted to him. The one appropriate use of heraldry in Columbia's disc is Shakespeare's own arms, though they are drawn so badly that one can hardly recognize the characteristically punning Shakespearean device--a spear. References to heraldry appear in many of the plays and have been the subject of many articles and at least one book (C.W. Scott-Giles's Shakespeare's Heraldry [London: Dent, 1950]). The sizeable team that put this CD-ROM together clearly did not care about the fact that arms mean something. The work as a whole shows much more concern for glitzy presentation than for getting the facts right.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Do Facts Matter on a CD-ROM?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.