Violence of and for the Child in Child and Adolescent Adaptations of Macbeth

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Laura Bjankini


Shakespeare’s Macbeth is one of the least frequently adapted Shakespeare plays for children and young adults and for good reason. The play relies on real and imagined violence about and against children to advance the plot. Macbeth also contains traditionally problematic topics such as childbirth, sex, sexism, suicide, execution, and most notably, murder. Despite this, adaptations of Macbeth continue to circulate in child and adolescent libraries. Each adaptation examined in this paper, including Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo’s Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents: Macbeth, Tina Packer and Barry Moser’s Tales from Shakespeare, and Gareth Hinds’ Macbeth, however, heavily relies on censorship, be it through moralizing unjust moments of violence, oversimplifying language, or lacking graphic detail in order to accomplish their purpose: communicate the plot and supposed moral lessons of Macbeth to young people. In this paper, I argue that regardless of its problematic themes, there seems to be something inherently worthwhile in Macbeth to teach our children despite its violence and problematic themes.

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