‘Titus Andronicus ‘is a play by William Shakespeare that went to become very popular during his time. The play was performed in Rome after the defeat of the Goths by the Romans. The Goths were people from German who invaded their country. Throughout the play, violence can be seen inform of brutal murders, sexual violence and mutilation, suicide, wars and conflicts. This is normally heightened by the urge of the characters to revenge. Examples of such cases include: the raping and mutilation of Lavinia, Titus’s daughter and the killing of Alarbus. Shakespeare presents stage violence that makes the audience concentrate and understand in a better way.
The main character in the play is Titus Andronicus while the antagonists are Tamora, Aaron and Saturninus. Titus is a roman hero because he has aided in defeating the Goths. On the other hand, he has lost his own sons through conflicts. In the play, he has a strong urge of revenge. Saturninus, late emperor of Rome’s son, does not obey the authority. Bassiunus is Lavinnia’s lover. Tamora is the Goth’s queen with a strong urge to revenge because her son, Alarbus, was executed. Aaron is a moor who has been given evil personification. Marcus, Titus’s brother, always defends the rights of the people. Titus’s sons include: Lucius, Quintus, Martius and Murtius. Publius is Marcus Andronicus son. Sons of Tamora are Alarbus, Larbus, Demetrious and Chiron. Lavinnia is a vey innocent girl who suffers from unpleasant offenses.
According to Shakespeare, Titus becomes a hero because of his campaign to overpower their enemies, that is, the Goths. Titus had captives like Tamora, who was the queen of the Goths and she was accompanied by her three sons as well as her lover, Aaron. In the battle between the Goths and the Romans, Titus lost many of his sons and mourns deeply saying: “O sacred receptacle (tomb) of my joys, sweet cell of virtue and nobility, how many sons of mine hast thou in store. That thou wilt never render to me more” (Shakespeare, 97). This shows how violence has resulted to weeping and mourning creating a very sad mood.
To offer a great honor to Titus’s sons funeral, Lucius who is one of the Titus’s surviving sons, proposes that human sacrifice should be done. Titus selects Alarbus who is the eldest son of Tamora. This makes Tamora to beg Titus not to kill her son by saying “victorious Titus, rue the tears I shed, a mother’s tears in passion for her son: and if thy sons were ever dear to thee, o think my son to be as dear to me” (Shakespeare 100). In spite of her pleas, Titus turns a deaf ear and replies “die he must- to appease their groaning shadows that are gone” (Shakespeare 100). This clearly shows how Titus revenged his sons’ death by killing Tamora’s son. Sad mood continues to heighten because after that execution, many murders and mutilations occur in the play. Change of tone occurs when Lavinnia weeps because of her dead brothers, but she also sheds tears of joy after seeing her father, Titus, who was still alive even after the battle. Shakespeare wanted to create a happy mood by breaking the monotony of the sad mood.
The imperial crown is taken by Saturninus after the death of the emperor. He then sets Tamora and her sons free since they had been captivated. Bassianus, Saturninus brother, does not support the proposed marriage between Lavinnia and his brother. So he decides to steal Lavinnia. After all this, Titus gets so angry with Marcus because he stops him from following the two lovers. His anger is shown clearly because he ends up killing his own son; Marcus. Saturninus marries Tamora making her the empress, who immediately tries to hit back on Titus because he executed Alarbus, her son.
Tamora gets a baby with Aaron instead of the emperor. She gets so worried because she does not want the emperor to find out. The only option she has is to kill the baby, but instead, she kills the midwife and the nurse who can reveal the whole truth. Then, she takes a white baby to substitute with her own because it was dark. Her black baby is left to be raised by the Goths.
Imagery can be seen when Marcus states “oh let me teach you how to knit again; this scattered corn into one mutual sheaf; these broken limbs again into one body” (Shakespeare 204). From the statement, the broken limbs refer to Rome which has been destroyed by chaos and wars. ‘oh let me teach you how to knit again’ means that Marcus is ready to mend the country into a peaceful one instead of destroying it. Furthermore Marcus refers to the murders that mess the play as ‘uproars severed as a flight of fowl’ (Shakespeare 204). Shakespeare used imagery to bring out a clear picture on how violence occurs in the play as well as revenge.
Symbolism in the play is portrayed when Demetrious and Chiron agrees to go for a field trip in the forest, but this is just an excuse since they want to get an opportunity of raping Lavinnia. While in the forest, Demetrious proclaims excitedly that “we hunt not, we, with horse nor hound; but hope to pluck a dainty doe to ground” (Shakespeare 170). From that statement, symbolism can be seen when he uses the word hunting as a symbol for sexual violence. The word ‘doe’ refers to Lavinnia. Later in the play, Lavinnia is raped by these two boys and after the incidence, Marcus goes to the forest and finds her wandering around “seeking to hide herself, as doth the dear/ That hath received some incurable wound”(Shakespeare 178). From Marcus statement, Lavinnia is compared with a wounded animal. The use of symbolism makes the play to appear real and also enhances understanding.
The setting is done in Rome near a forest. This brings out the idea of Lavinnia’s rape in that forest and how the enemies hide themselves during the wars. In the forest, so many acts can be done without people’s knowledge especially the most dangerous ones like brutal murders and mutilations. Shakespeare chooses to use this kind of setting to make the ideas more concrete.
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The form that portrayed in the play has been demonstrated by sadness and mourning throughout. This has been accelerated by revenge actions from the characters. Weeping occurs from the beginning and gets even worse as the play continues. At the beginning of the play, Shakespeare might have used violence for entertainment purposes especially to those people who enjoy horror movies. But he still wanted to create logic in the play.
Basically, Shakespeare uses the theme of violence to show how lack of peace can be dangerous to the society because it results to negative things such as deaths, rape and mutilation, conflicts and many others. He also brings out the relationship between revenge and violence. Many characters are seen revenging deaths of their relatives. This brings much conflict leading to intense violence. Most violence in the play has been seen as gratuitous but it helps the audience to discover the price people pay for their good or wrong deeds. It also shows the disparity between reality and appearance.
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