Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus is the earliest play attributed to Shakespeare, and is a very violent tragedy. It is a powerful example of the nexus of revenge and vengeance that typifies much of Shakespeare's work.

The story follows the return of Rome's most famous general, Titus Andronicus, after having defeated the Goths. He brings with him Queen Tamora, her eldest son, and her lover Aaron the Moor.

Saturninus, the late emperor's son, claims the throne of Rome, and Titus supports him. But Saturninus marries Tamora, who promises to take her brother's place if she is made empress.

Meanwhile, Lavinia, Titus's daughter, is raped and mutilated by her sadistic ravishers, Demetrius and Chiron, who cut off her hands and tongue to prevent her from testifying against them. Lavinia manages to reveal their names by holding a staff in her mouth and guiding it with her stumps; she also tells Marcus of her fate, explaining that she had read in Ovid's Metamorphoses about Philomel, who was reshaped into an ape after being rapped.

As the play progresses, Titus begins to show strange behaviour. His temper deteriorates, and he is accompanied by the spirits of Revenge, Murder, and Rape.

He sends his tribune Marcus to invite Lucius, the king of the Goths, to a banquet, in which the spirits of Revenge, Murder, Rape, and Titus will grant him revenge if he agrees to stop attacking Rome. Upon his arrival, Tamora pretends to be the spirit of Revenge and offers to offer him her help; when Titus insists that she and his enemies stay with him, she agrees.

Lucius comes to Rome with his army, but is persuaded by his mother to spare the baby of her lover, Aaron the Moor. He agrees, if Aaron will betray Tamora and her sons.

In Act 4, Lavinia shows Marcus a book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, which contains the story of Philomel, who is reshaped into an ape after she is rapped. She also shows Marcus the stumps that her attackers left behind on her, which she uses to guide a stick in her mouth to write down the names of their ravishers.

A rash of killings follow, including the murder of Lucius and the capture of Tamora. The resulting chaos leaves Titus and his sons avenged, and they kill both their parents, leaving only Marcus, Lucius, and Young Lucius alive.

The earliest recorded performance of Titus Andronicus is at the Rose in 1594, when Philip Henslowe records a performance by Sussex's Men under the title "Titus and Ondronicus". It was likely performed on 29 January or 6 February.

Although no evidence of a formal authorship has ever been established, some historians believe that this play was written by Shakespeare. Some have noted that it is similar in style to other plays attributed to him, such as Richard II and Hamlet. Others have pointed to its similarities with contemporary dramatists' works as further proof that the play was actually written by Shakespeare.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price