Lisbeth” by Selenia Paz is a short story published in the anthology Perchance to Dream: Classical Tales from the Bard’s World in New Skins, edited by Lyssa Chiavari. Perchance to Dream: Classical Tales includes several adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays rewritten as stories for young adults. “Lisbeth” tells the story of two Mexican girls whose encounters with fortune-telling witches and whose pursuit of their dreams in the United States echo themes of predetermination, ambition, betrayal, and murder found in “Macbeth.” Like Macbeth and Banquo, the girls Lisbeth and Bianca are foils with the guilt, ambition, and fascination with prophecy of one contrasted with the innocence and relative disinterest in fortunetelling of the other. Student may be able to relate this story to their own dreams of fame and their own dilemmas in friendships.
The story scores approximately at the seventh grade reading level, which makes it a appropriate text for the class to read independently. The events of the story take place in modern times and Selenia Paz writes in a style appropriate contemporary young adult fiction. The content may be more comprehensible to students because it includes narrative elements like rising action, a climax, and a conclusion. The focus on teenage characters in a contemporary setting may also make the story more relatable for high school readers. The text includes Spanish words and phrases that may be unfamiliar to some readers but contextual clues within the story signify roughly what these words and phrases mean. I could assign “Lisbeth” as out-of-class reading that students would be expected to complete independently.
Use in Class
“Lisbeth” is a text that students could read and discuss as a whole class after reading “Macbeth.” We could also use this text to tie-up discussion of themes in “Macbeth” and as part of a larger discussion of interpretation of Shakespeare. “Lisbeth” shows how themes of “Macbeth” continue to be relevant in contemporary times. This text connects the events of “Macbeth” with experiences of young people and also provides some representation of diversity as an adaptation that makes the main characters Mexican and female. In class, we could read aloud specific passages of the text and discuss how they relate to the events and themes of “Macbeth.”
Submitted by Julia Katz