Shakespeare In Bits: Macbeth iPad Edition

App review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Shakespeare In Bits: Macbeth iPad Edition App Poster Image
An extraordinary study aid for mature-themed play.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn plot, character, and literary analysis with Shakespeare in Bits: MacBeth. It's especially helpful that teens can read the text alongside the animation, giving them an understanding of the words in context and an appreciation for the beauty of the dialogue. The additional resources are helpful as well -- like a tutor in the iPad. The production quality of Shakespeare in Bits: MacBeth is stellar, and teens will appreciate the help that this educational resource gives in understanding a classical work of literature.

Ease of Play

The app is quite easy to use -- even for novice iPad users.

Violence

There is plenty of violence in this story: Lady Macbeth encourages her husband to murder King Duncan in order to take the throne. Macbeth stabs Duncan in his sleep, and in the morning also kills his chamberlains. Macbeth hires people to kill Banquo and his son Fleance. Later on, Macbeth orders the death of the wife and children of Macduff (a Scottish nobleman who serves as a threat to Macbeth). Lady Macbeth kills herself. And finally, Macbeth is beheaded in a fight with Macduff.

Sex

There are more subtle references and sexual innuendos in Shakespeare's Macbeth than direct descriptions or imagery of sexual behavior. Some lines of dialogue or jokes hint at impotence and performance.

Language

Words such as "hell" and "damn'd" can be read (and heard) in this app.

Consumerism

The app has a tab called More Plays that promotes other software from Mindconnex Learning, such as the Romeo and Juliet version of Shakespeare in Bits. There is also a link that takes you to the iTunes App Store.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are a few scenes and references related to drinking alcohol, such as Macbeth planning to get King Duncan’s two chamberlains drunk so they'll black out -- and then be blamed for Duncan's murder. Lady Macbeth also uses a metaphor to liken her excitement to drunkenness.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Macbeth isn't appropriate for little kids because of its mature themes -- including murder, witches and ghosts, alcohol consumption, and sexually suggestive language. Plus, this animated version of the story shows the killing sequences (albeit with cartoon-like visuals). It's not overtly graphic compared to today's violence seen in movies. Many young kids won't likely understand everything because of the use of Shakespearean English.

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What's it about?

The app includes the full text of the play as well as plot summaries, character analysis, and literary analysis. Kids read the text and watch the animation and hear the professional reading. In-text translation is available for some of the Shakespearean language, like hurly-burly to battle or ere to before -- kids click on the highlighted term to see the more contemporary word choice. Each scene is brief -- a minute or two -- so kids can view the whole two-hour plus play at once or watch scene by scene.

Is it any good?

SHAKESPEARE IN BITS: MACBETH delivers the original play, divided into digestible "bits" with translation, analysis, summaries, and notes. But what really makes this app shine is a fully animated version of the tragedy that runs beside the text. Therefore, not only can you read the complete unabridged Macbeth, but you can also watch the nearly three hour play of it, voiced by professional actors Stephen Dillane (King Arthur) as Macbeth and Fiona Shaw (Harry Potter) as Lady Macbeth. When the play is running, the text is highlighted, so you can easily follow along -- or pause at any time to click on a word or phrase to get the modern English translation. You can also skip back or fast forward to various acts and scenes.

This handy app also has a biography section so you can read up on each character, along with a relationship map that shows the links between characters.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • If teens are studying Macbeth in school, use Shakespeare in Bits: Macbeth as a complement at home to deepen understanding. Watch it and discuss it with your teen.

  • Share with your teen some of your favorite lines or scenes from Macbeth.

App details

For kids who love homework help

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