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Titus Andronicus

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Titus Andronicus is one of Shakespeare's earliest and bloodiest tragedies and was hugely successful in his lifetime. Subsequent generations have struggled with its bold confrontation of violence but in the 20th and 21st centuries the play has chimed with audiences again, perhaps because of its simultaneously shocking and playful approach to violent revenge and bodily mutilation. Jonathan Bate's original Arden edition was first published in 1995 and has had a significant influence on how the play has been performed and studied in the past 20 years. This revised edition includes a new 10,000 word introductory essay in which Bate reassess his views on the play's co-authorship with George Peele in the light of contemporary textual scholarship and updates his lively account of the play's performance history, on the international stage and screen. With detailed on-page commentary notes this will continue to be the edition of choice for students, scholars and theatre-makers.

268 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1594

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William Shakespeare

28k books42.3k followers
William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. Scholars believe that he died on his fifty-second birthday, coinciding with St George’s Day.

At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime, and in 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's.

Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians hero-worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are consistently performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

According to historians, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets throughout the span of his life. Shakespeare's writing average was 1.5 plays a year since he first started writing in 1589. There have been plays and sonnets attributed to Shakespeare that were not authentically written by the great master of language and literature.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,225 reviews
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
October 8, 2011
Literally years after people began suggesting that I do this, I finally got around to reading the damn play. So in the words of Bette Davis: fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night. Because here's


TITUS: Man, it's great to be me! I'm an awesome general, all my super-handsome sons are awesome, I have a hot daughter who's engaged to a great guy, and even though the emperor just married my enemy Queen Tamora I'm sure that can never backfire on me! Yessireee, everything's coming up Titus!

MARCUS: Hey, brother. So, um...got some bad news. I was walking in the woods, and first I found your daughter's husband's dead body. And then...well, I ran into Lavinia.


GROUNDLING 1: Holy shit, where are her hands?

GROUNDLING 2: Oh my GOD that is a lot of blood.

SHAKESPEARE: That's right, this is all happening. Cannot change the channel, people.

AARON: Hey Titus, your sons have been framed for murdering Bassianus, but the emperor will let them go if you cut off your hand.

TITUS: Sure thing, here ya go.

AARON: JK! Here are their heads, later sucker!

TITUS: Okay, it's on now, motherfuckers.

AARON: Mwahaha. In case anyone in the audience hasn't caught on, I'm the bad guy because I'm black. Othello isn't for a few more years, folks. Enjoy this. Hey guys! How was raping and mutilating Titus' daughter?

DEMETRIUS: Pretty awesome, actually. Good thing Mom let us do that instead of just killing her like Lavinia asked.

CHIRON: Good thing the audience has conveniently forgotten that Lavinia's husband already raped her at the beginning of the play! Seriously though, why isn't that a bigger deal?

DEMETRIUS: He married her afterwards, so it's okay. Also we made her ugly, which is way worse.

NURSE: Good news, Aaron! Tamora just had a baby! The bad news is, he's brown.

CHIRON: Wait, if my mom's white, and her husband's white, and you're the only black character in the play, then...


"CHIRON: Thou hast undone our mother.

AARON: Villain, I have done thy mother"


SATURNINUS: Mmm, great dinner, Titus.

TITUS: Thanks! But I didn't do it alone, I had a great assistant! Come in here, Lavinia! You've sure had a rough couple of days, but it's all going to be okay soon! Also, since you were raped and dishonored, I have to kill you. Sorry.

LAVINIA: God, I hate this play.


SATURNINUS: That was odd. Hey Tamora, why didn't your sons come to dinner?


TAMORA: Wait...so, I just ate-




GROUNDLING 2: Holy shit so much blood.

LUCIUS: Well, guess that makes me emperor! Going somewhere, Aaron?

AARON: Augh! Okay, here's the deal: don't kill my mixed race bastard baby and I'll tell you how I planned the whole thing.

LUCIUS: Thanks for your cooperation! Now I'm just going to throw your girlfriend's body to the dogs and bury you chest deep in the ground to starve to death slowly! 'Cause you're the black guy.


GROUNDLING 2: And you wanted to see Romeo and Juliet


Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book82k followers
March 19, 2020

Like A Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus is part of a grammar-school-educated Shakespeare's crash-course substitute for a university education. In Errors, he imitated Plautine comedy's plot structure and stock characters, and--in an experiment to see just how much fun the form could hold--doubled the number of comic misunderstandings by doubling the number of identical twins. In Titus, he imitates the violent plots and magisterial rhetoric of Senecan tragedy, and--again as an experiment--doubles the horrors. In the process, Shakespeare produces for the first time some highly rhetorical, mythology-laden blank verse which flows with a new musical subtlety, and also succeeds in creating over-the-top language and grisly tableaux as outrageous and overwrought as a blood-spattered baroque ceiling--in other words, exactly the sort of excess that would appeal to an Elizabethan audience.

Is the play intentionally funny? Except for an occasional line here and there, I doubt it. At any rate, if it is supposed to be, it fails. Shakespeare lacked the anarchic temperament necessary to exult in evil for its own sake (as Marlowe so effectively did in the "Jew of Malta"). On the contrary, his early villains are the most convincing when they reveal their vulnerability--La Pucelle's terror at her auto da fe, the deformed Gloster's fear of courtly dalliance--not when they revel in their nihilism. Without at least a little love for chaos, there can be no real black comedy, and, if such a love can be deemed an artistic virtue, it is a virtue not found in Shakespeare's character. (Eventually, he would depict the cold manipulative rage of Iago, but it would take ten years of life and craft to give him the tools to do so.)

Although I like this play, I don't believe it is successful. The plot is too mechanical and the horrors too insincere. The Moor's passionate defense of his newborn son--a villain displaying his vulnerability--is the only part of this elaborate bloodbath that touches the human heart.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews50 followers
May 4, 2022
Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare

Titus Andronicus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593, probably in collaboration with George Peele. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy and is often seen as his attempt to emulate the violent and bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries, which were extremely popular with audiences throughout the 16th century.

The play is set during the latter days of the Roman Empire and tells the fictional story of Titus, a general in the Roman army, who is engaged in a cycle of revenge with Tamora, Queen of the Goths. It is Shakespeare's bloodiest and most violent work, and traditionally was one of his least respected plays; although it was extremely popular in its day, by the later 17th century it had fallen out of favour.

‏‫‬‭Titus Andronicus; Jules César; Antoine et Cléopatre; Coriolan, William Shakespeare‏‫‬‭; traduction de Francois-Victor Hugo‏‫‬‭; preface et notices de Germaine Landre. ‏‫‬‭Paris‏‫‬‭: Garnier-Flammarion‏‫‬‭, 1965 ‏‫‬‭= 1344. 438 Pages.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوم ماه می سال2016میلادی

عنوان: تیتوس آندرونیکوس؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شکسپیر؛ موضوع نمایشنامه های نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده16م

تیتوس آندرونیکوس یکی از تراژدیهای «ویلیام شکسپیر» است، که بین سال‌های1588میلادی تا سال1593میلادی نگاشته شده‌ است؛ به نظر می‌رسد «تیتوس آندرونیکوس» نخستین تراژدی باشد، که «شکسپیرِ هماره بزرگوار»، آن را نگاشته‌ اند، برخی گفته اند «شکسپیر»، برای رقابت با اثر همدوره اش، یعنی نمایش «خونخواهی»، این نمایشنامه را نگاشته‌ بودند؛ این نمایش‌نامه خونین‌ترین و خشن‌ترین اثر «ویلیام شکسپیر» است؛ هر چند که این اثر در آن روزها پر بیننده بود، ولی در سده ی هفدهم میلادی، تب محبوبیت آن فروکش کرد؛ در دوره ی «ویکتوریا»، به دلیل آنکه در این تراژدی، مکرراً از صحنه‌ های خشونت‌ آمیز و خونین، استفاده شده‌ بود، از اجرای آن، خودداری به عمل آمد؛ اما این نمایش‌نامه، از سالهای میانی سده بیستم میلادی به اینسو، اعتبار از دست رفته ی خود را بار دیگر به دست آورد؛

نمایشنامه در پنج پرده است؛ تراژدی «تیتوس آندرونیکوس» پس از گذر مدتی کوتاه از مرگ امپراتور «روم»، آغاز می‌شود، جایی که دو پسر او «ساتورنینوس (پسر بزرگتر و جانشین واقعی امپراتور)»، و «باسیانوس» برای نمایندگان و مردم، در جایگاه تریبون عمارت پارلمان، برای به دست آوردن جانشینی پس از امپراتور، در حال سخنرانی هستند؛ در این هنگام «مارکوس آندرونیکوس» اعلام می‌کند، که گزینه ی محبوب امپراتوری «روم» از سوی مردم، برادر او «تیتوس»، است؛ «مارکوس» در اینباره، می‌گوید مردم همصدا «تیتوس» را، به عنوان امپراتوری برگزیدند، چون هیچ‌کس از لحاظ شرف، شجاعت و شهامت در «روم»، از «تیتوس» بالاتر نیست، او از نبردهایش در درازای زمان که بر ضد «گوت‌»ها داشته، و بر آنان پیروز شده، اکنون به «روم (رم)» بازگشته است؛ ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 30/03/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 13/01/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
576 reviews7,778 followers
October 8, 2017
I would be incredibly surprised if I read a play worse than Titus Andronicus in this challenge. Titus was Shakespeare’s first attempt at staging a classical tragedy – something which he will eventually go on to get so right in works such as Julius Caesar. The basic plot follows a Roman general (our Titus) who is victorious in a battle against the Goths. As a reward Titus brings the queen of the Goths and her sons back to Rome. Titus is a silly billy however because he kills one of the queen’s sons and then the queen plots revenge on Titus. Nobody cares about the plot of Titus however. Any piece of criticism you read about this play will mention the same thing; its bloodiness and its violence. Titus is such a violent play that during the Victorian era it was practically banished Shakespeare’s oeuvre because the Victorians couldn’t handle the play’s unrelenting gore. This might sound enticing to some but believe me, it isn’t as fun as it sounds.

Titus Andronicus reads like Charlie Manson’s rejected screenplays. The word “gratuitous” doesn’t even begin to describe utter violence of this play. Macbeth is bloody and violent but it is also a perfectly constructed narrative in which every drop of blood has a clear motive and consequence. There’s a character in Titus who is raped and then her hands and tongue are cut off. She doesn’t die however, she sticks around for two more acts just fumbling and making garbled noises like Brendan Behan at an open bar. I lost count of how many amputations take place in Titus by Act 3.

Poet and cat enthusiast, T.S. Eliot, once wrote that Titus was ‘one of the stupidest and most uninspired plays ever written’. Whilst Eliot might have been fond of the odd hyperbole I cannot help but agree with his sentiment. Titus, as far as I can see, has absolutely no redeeming qualities. It’s the Elizabethan equivalent of Viva Forever!: The Spice Girls Musical. In fact, the history of criticism on Titus seems to just be a duel of insults as each critic attempts to formulate the ultimate put-down or the sickest burn. One of my favourites is from token white critic Harold Bloom who suggests that the violence and tragedy of Titus is so comically absurd that the best director to tackle the play would be Mel Brooks. (I am biased toward loving anything Harold Bloom writes because he once called slam poetry ‘the death of art’.)

At least I now have an answer for when someone asks me what Shakespeare’s worst play is. I didn’t even tell you about how two guys literally get baked into a pie. Oh Titus Andronicus, you precious mess.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,883 reviews16.6k followers
November 19, 2019
Pulp fiction for the 1600s, Quentin Tarantino in lace collar and puffy pants.

If anyone thinks that Shakespeare is dry and timid, flowery and antiquated, they need to see this, but beware: this is a bloody mess.

One critic, complaining that it was such a caricature that only Mel Brooks should direct, may be close, but I would have Tarantino direct. Another critic wrote that this was the ultimate revenge story and I agree with that as well.

Is it too brutal, too graphically violent for the stage? Maybe, but then again perhaps that was Shakespeare's intent, to create such an outrageous show that the audience would be drawn into his message of bloody revenge and be left with difficult images afterwards.

Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
February 22, 2016
I saw this at Shakespeare’s Globe in London last summer, and was absolutely amazed at the brutal brilliance of the production. The actor who played Titus was superb; he captured Titus’s decent into madness perfectly by evoking a character that started out as strong and fearless to one who ended up unhinged and brutal. It is no wonder though that Titus fell into depravity because his house, and name, has been torn apart by revenge. Consequently, he embraces revenge, causing his madness, because his daughter was brutalised upon to inflict wounds upon him.

Lots of bloody violence


Now this is a play that would have appealed to both the masses and the gentry of the Renaissance era. The play is violent, and I mean violent. There is something like fifteen deaths, a whole bunch of decapitations and one incredibly cruel rape. For theatre this is a very high toll. Thus, the Renaissance common folk would have been entertained because they had a taste for bloody spectacle. Moreover, the play retains the popular revenge theme through the sophistication of its plot, which would have appealed to more educated audience. In addition, it was delivered in the most eloquent of styles: Shakespearean Iambic Pentameter. Thus, the gentry too would have been entertained.

This is quite a feat in itself to write a play to appeal to audiences both high and low. However, in spite of this, this is commonly regarded as Shakespeare’s worse play. Some people even go as far to argue that because it is so poor, in their opinion, that he couldn’t of wrote it. I disagree with this assessment. I really enjoyed the play, but I must say it is a play that is performed better than it is read. This was written for the stage not the page.

Brutal revenge plot


The plot begins with Titus returning to Rome as a victor of a successful campaign over the barbarous Goths. He has brought back their royalty, in chains, as his prize. He executes the eldest prince to appease the citizens of Rome. The Queen of the Goths, Tamora, swears revenge; she later seduces the new Emperor and embarks upon a quest that seeks the ruination of the house of Andronicus, which breeds more revenge. This time it is the hearts of the remaining members of the house of Andronicus.

Whilst Renaissance Tragedy was not meant to be didactical (used as a learning tool) like Greek Tragedy, I think a lot can be taken from revenge Tragedy. This may have been only staged to entertain, but it demonstrates the detrimental effects of revenge. If you revenge the death of a love one, whether justly or unjustly, it creates more revenge in the hearts of those you have revenged upon. This creates a vicious cycle that will only end with everyone dead. Indeed, revenge is something to be considered most carefully.

Overall, this is a great play. I don’t care what the critics say because this play is both entertaining and intellectual. The revenge theme keeps the reader/audience entertained whilst the creation of Titus’s fall from grace keeps the play sophisticated enough to merit the study of it. I do think if you’re a reader that hates Shakespeare, god forbid, then this is a play that may peak your interest.
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 2 books1,360 followers
June 22, 2017
My favorite of the lesser-known works, this has got more outright horror than most contemporary slasher novels. Sure, the rhetoric is a bit stilted and Shakespeare borrows heavily from Ovid, but it's a fascinating study of the bottomless pit that people can find themselves in once they succumb to the lure of violence.
Profile Image for TK421.
561 reviews267 followers
April 11, 2011

The only piece of advice I can give is: Prepare yourself, you are about to enter into a world that knows no bounds when it comes to the old saying "enough is enough." Billy saw the line, spit on the line, and then crossed the line.

If reading Shakespeare isn't high on your list, there is an excellent movie called Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins.

Just try not to read/watch it before supper...it may spoil your appetite.

Profile Image for E. G..
1,112 reviews684 followers
May 9, 2018
General Introduction
The Chronology of Shakespeare's Works
Introduction, by Jacques Berthoud
The Play in Performance
Further Reading

--The Most Lamentable Roman Tragedy of Titus Andronicus

An Account of the Text
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
August 25, 2017
This play was a bloody, barbaric mess with 90% of the characters dying. I really enjoyed the whole concept of it and how twisted it was however, it was a little bit too savage for my tastes at points, namely the whole Lavinia situation.
Not my favourite Shakespeare play but I definitely think it's worth reading! It's interesting to read this, his first tragedy, and see the elements that have carried onto his later tragedies.
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,000 reviews
January 19, 2021
This violent play is Shakespeare's first tragedy
i liked the general idea of revenge and justice
but i didn't enjoy it much, it was really a bloody play
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,732 followers
March 30, 2017
"And let me say, that never wept before,
My tears are now prevailing orators!"

- William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, Act III.1


Shakespeare's first Tragedy is not perfect. It is bloody, predictable, racist, and gratuitous to the extreme. However, it probably deserves better attention than it usually gets (well there is the Julie Taymor film). I think this early Shakespeare's villain (Aaron the Moor) is diabolical and fantastic. Yes, I'm not a fan of the easy way the moor (or often the Jew) becomes the bad guy in Shakespeare's plays, but I'm also not a fan (at all) of judging Shakespeare by a morality that the 21st century only so far corrects. We have plenty of racist motes in our own eyes, thank you very much. I love the wickedness of the Goth Queen Tamora. I love Titus and his brother Marcus. Again, the poetry is not fully mature. The plot is still a bit overripe and overwrought. But ye gads, Shakespeare's pen can still pull some dangerous couplets out of the air.

I can, however, also see how this "horror opera" (Bloom followed those two words with "Stephen King turned loose among the Romans and the Goths), with its "nasty power" could unsettle most readers. Especially if taken straight. Bloom thinks without Aaron, this play "would be unendurable". Again, I'm not as critical of this violent, surrealist, bloody farce as Bloom. Perhaps, that has less to do with the actual text and more to do with our own experiences. I was raised watching Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch movies. I think Bloom had a bit higher brow experience.

One SPECIFIC, indirect, aspect does give me pause. A real pause. I recently heard that Titus Andronicus was Stephen Bannon's favorite Shakespeare play (Yes, that Bannon. Trump's Bannon). While that probably says more about Stephen K. Bannon (co-executive producer) than it does about the play. But, IT still says something about the play, methinks.

There were also several nice lines, specifically:

- "For shame, be friends, and join for that you jar.
'Tis policy and stratagem must do
That you affect; and so you must resolve,
That what you cannot as you would achieve,
You must perforce accomplish as you may.
- "Do not draw back, for we will mourn with thee,
O, could our mourning ease thy misery!"
- "Let fools do good, and fair me call for grace,
Aaron will have his should black like his face."
- "Now is the time to storm; why art thou still?"
- "Can the son's eye behold his father bleed?
There's meed for meed, death for a deadly deed!"
- "For when no friends are by, men praise themselves."
- "If one good deed in all my life I did,
I do repent it from my very soul."
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,635 followers
April 7, 2022
Clearly the bloodiest of all of Shakespeare's plays, Titus is literally a blood sandwich in which nearly every character is maimed or murdered in the most heinous ways. It is a double-revenge story of Romans versus Goths and just an orgy of violence end to end. Apparently, given the times when public executions were heavily-attended events, this was one of the most popular plays during Shakespeare's lifetime. It is so brutal!

Fino's Reviews of Shakespeare and Shakespearean Criticism
The Comedy of Errors (1592-1593
The Taming of the Shrew (1593-1594)
The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1594-1595)
Love's Labour's Lost (1594-1595)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595-1596)
The Merchant of Venice (1596-1597)
Much Ado About Nothing (1598-1599)
As You Like It (1599-1600)
Twelfth Night (1599-1600)
The Merry Wives of Windsor (1600-1601)
All's Well That Ends Well (1602-1603)
Measure for Measure (1604-1605)
Cymbeline (1609-1610)
A Winter's Tale (1610-1611)
The Tempest (1611-1612)
Two Noble Kinsmen (1612-1613)

Henry VI Part I (1589-1590)
Henry VI Part II (1590-1591)
Henry VI Part III (1590-1591)
Richard III (1593-1594)
Richard II (1595-1596)
King John (1596-1597)
Edward III (1596-1597)
Henry IV Part I (1597-1598)
Henry IV Part II (1597-1598)
Henry V (1598-1599)
Henry VIII (1612-1612)

Titus Andronicus (1592-1593)
Romeo and Juliet (1594-1595)
Julius Caesar (1599-1600)
Hamlet (1600-1601)
Troilus and Cressida (1601-1602)
Othello (1604-1605)
King Lear (1605-1606)
Macbeth (1605-1606)
Anthony and Cleopatra (1606-1607)
Coriolanus (1607-1608)
Timon of Athens (1607-1608)
Pericles (1608-1609)

Shakespearean Criticism
The Wheel of Fire by Wilson Knight
A Natural Perspective by Northrop Frye
Shakespeare After All by Marjorie Garber
Shakespeare's Roman Plays and Their Background by M W MacCallum
Shakespearean Criticism 1919-1935 compiled by Anne Ridler
Shakespearean Tragedy by A.C. Bradley
Shakespeare's Sexual Comedy by Hugh M. Richmond
Shakespeare: The Comedies by R.P. Draper
Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics by Stephen Greenblatt
1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro

Collections of Shakespeare
Venus and Adonis, the Rape of Lucrece and Other Poems
Shakespeare's Sonnets and a Lover's Complaint
The Complete Oxford Shakespeare
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,067 reviews1,906 followers
June 22, 2018

Cannibalism, rape, many murders, dismemberment, torture, and infanticide.


Widely regarded as Shakespeare's worst, most despicable play, some people defend him by saying he didn't even write it - that he was just credited with it and it was penned by another.

It's not really the play that comes to mind when people think of old Bill. :)

The Emperor dies. Will Saturninus, the older son, or Bassianus, the kinder son, get the throne? Neither. The people want Titus Andronicus, that old battleaxe who fought for 40 years and lost 21 sons in battle, to rule Rome. Titus has some prisoners of war with him: Tamora (Queen of the Goths), her three sons (Chiron, Demetrius and Alarbus), along with a black man - Aaron. Aaron is Tamora's lover.

Titus determines it is only right that he slaughter Tamora's oldest son in payback for the sons he's lost. Tamora begs him on her knees not to kill her son, but Titus does it anyway.

Titus refuses to be king, saying he's too old, and gives the throne to Saturninus. Saturninus agrees to take Lavinia (Titus's daughter) as a wife. Bassianus protests because they're engaged. His protests are unheeded, so he runs away with Lavinia and her brothers helping them escape. One brother stays to plead with their father to allow Lavinia to stay with her love. Titus kills him. He slaughters his own son. Then he denies him the right to be buried in the family plot. Only after his other sons beg him to reconsider does he relent and allow the son he murdered himself to be buried with honor.

Saturninus decides to take the Goth POW Tamora as his wife. (What the hell is he thinking!?!?) She vows to brutally kill everyone who wronged her. (I cast Thandie Newton or Zoe Saldaña in this role. They are great actresses and exactly who I think of when I think of "vengeful queen with royal bearing." Although a HUGE deal is made during the play about white Tamora having a black lover (Aaron) so I suppose I will have to think of a white woman to play the role.)

Aaron, Tamora's black lover, is happy she's now an empress so he can get power, too. He comes across her two sons, Chiron and Demetrius, arguing about which one is more deserving of Lavinia's love.
Aaron's like: Hello? She's married to Bassianus now.
C+D: Aw. We're disappointed.
AARON: But you can still rape her! Why don't you take turns? She's going out hunting in the woods with the men. It would be easy to get her alone and gangbang her. In the forest no one will hear her scream.
C+D: This is a great idea! We can't wait!

Aaron goes out in the woods and sets up things so that Quintus and Martius (Titus's sons) will be accused of murder. Then he meets Tamora and she begs him to f*ck her. But he's like: No, I can't think about sex right now, I am planning some murders. Bassianus and Lavinia catch Tamora and Aaron together and insult and humiliate Tamora for having a black lover. C+D come and stab Bassianus to death. Tamora wants Lavinia dead, too, but her sons want to rape her first. Lavinia begs Tamora, woman to woman, to please kill her and not let her be raped. Tamora ignores her pleading and tells her sons to do what they want with Lavinia.

So C+D rape her and then cut off her arms at the elbow and cut out her tongue so she can't ever tell anyone who did this to her.

Aaron has set it up so it looks like Titus's sons (Quintus and Martius) are responsible for Bassianus's death. Titus begs for his sons' lives, but they are dragged away to be executed.

Marcus brings the raped and mutilated Lavinia to her father, who is overcome with sorrow. Not only are his sons to be executed, but his only daughter is tongueless, armless, and without her virtue.

Aaron comes in and tells Titus that if Titus will let Aaron cut off his hand, his sons will be freed. Titus lets Aaron cut off his hand and is promptly presented with the decapitated heads of his two sons. Aaron gloats in his deception and trickery. Titus starts laughing, bent on revenge and also (we think) starting to go a bit mad.

In the next scene, Titus lovingly feeds Lavinia and tries to understand her body language, since she has no means to communicate. He vows to find some way to communicate with her. He shows more signs of insanity.

Lavinia manages to tell her father and uncle who raped her by writing in the sand with a staff in her mouth. The men kneel and vow their revenge.

Meanwhile, at the castle, Tamora gives birth to a black baby. The nurse rushes to Aaron, saying that Tamora has ordered the baby to be murdered. He's black and therefore can't be Saturninus's son. Aaron vows his little son will not die, and murders the nurse by stabbing her to death.

Then there's a weird scene with arrows being shot into the air with messages for the gods, a clown with some pigeons and a message from Titus to Saturninus. The clown is murdered, blah blah blah, THE POINT IS that Titus is raising an army of Goths to rise against Saturninus. Saturninus is scared. His wife, Tamora, says, don't worry, I'll convince that crazy old man to call off the army.

The Goth army discovers Aaron and his infant son in hiding. Titus's son Lucius wants to hang Aaron, but hang the baby so that his father can watch it die first - and then hang Aaron. But Aaron says he'll give Lucius all the information he wants about what crimes went down if Lucius promises to spare his son's life. Lucius agrees. Aaron tells him everything, bragging about the part he played in it all, reveling in his evil nature. He only wishes he could've committed a billion more crimes! His only regrets are that he ever did any good in his life. Lucius decides that hanging is too good for Aaron and has him gagged to get him to stop talking about his evil, evil life.

Tamora and her sons C+D go to Titus, claiming to be Revenge, Rape and Murder. They tell him they are sent by the gods to right the wrong done to Titus. Titus pretends he is insane and that he believes them, and agrees to Tamora's suggestion that Titus go visit Saturninus and Tamora at their castle. But he insists she leave Rape and Murder (C+D) there. She leaves her sons with Titus. Titus slits her sons' throats as Lavinia kneels before them, catching their flowing blood in a basin. Why? SO THAT TITUS CAN BAKE THEM INTO PIES.

Titus bakes C+D into pies and brings them to Saturninus and Tamora's house. Titus asks Satruninus a hypothetical question about what one should do with a raped daughter, and Saturninus says "kill her." Titus promptly whirls around and stabs his daughter Lavinia to death. Saturninus is shocked. Titus claims her real killers are C+D. Saturninus calls for C+D, but Titus informs them that not only are C+D dead, but in their mothers tummy - because she just ate the pies that were made out of their blood and bones.

Then Titus stabs Tamora to death.

Then Saturninus stabs Titus to death.

Then Titus's son Lucius stabs Saturninus to death.

Rome is once again without an emporer, just like at the beginning of the play.

Well. That was Titus Andronicus. Are you disgusted? I sure was. It was the first Shakespeare play I'd ever read, I must have been 9 or 10 years old. I didn't read Shakespeare again for TEN WHOLE YEARS because I was so grossed out. All I had heard about all my life was "Shakespeare is the greatest writer ever born" and "Shakespeare's plays are amazing works of art" etc. etc. etc. Imagine my shock when my first Shakespeare experience was with THIS. Racist (Aaron is one of Shakespeare's few black characters, and he is the most disgusting person ever), with rape, killing your own children, threatening to hang babies, tricking a mother into eating her own sons' corpses...I mean, ugh. Could this play get any more disgusting?

I think the overarching theme, though, is a cautionary one about how revenge on others destroys you as well, and that forgiveness is the best course of action.

Also, I think, there is some subtle commentary about how the traditional thing isn't the right thing to do. Even though Saturninus was the older son, the kinder Bassianus should have been emperor. Even though it was traditional to kill rape victims in order to give them some dignity, Titus should have allowed his daughter to live. Even though it was traditional to seek revenge, all the characters should have forgiven each other.

The only time Aaron comes off as even slightly human is in his concern for his son's wellbeing - which is in marked contrast to every other character's willingness to kill their own children left and right.

I can see why people are desperate to claim that Shakespeare didn't write this, but it sounds like Shakespeare to me. o.O

If you are going to read one Shakespeare play in your life - DON'T READ THIS ONE.
Profile Image for Oguz Akturk.
280 reviews495 followers
September 11, 2022
YouTube kanalımda Shakespeare'in hayatı, mutlaka okunması gereken kitapları ve kronolojik okuma sırası hakkında bilgi edinebilirsiniz: https://youtu.be/rGxh2RVjmNU

Nejat İşler'in Barda adlı filmini izleyen var mı aramızda? 1997 yılında Ankara'da bir barda gerçekleşen ve bir grup gence uygulanan tecavüz, işkence ve cinayeti konu edinen bu film ile kendisinden yaklaşık 400 yıl önce 1594 yılında yazılmış Titus Andronicus adlı oyun arasında nasıl bir bağ kurabiliriz?

İçerisinde en az beş adet bıçaklanma, iki adet boğaz kesilmesi, bir adet el kesilmesi, bir adet tecavüz ve bir adet de dil kesilmesi geçen ve tiyatroda icra edilmesi en zor oyunların birinden bahsediyorum. Barda filminde de Nejat İşler yani Selim, "Yaşadığınız hayat bedava sizin" der ve aslında başaramadıkları ve elde edemedikleri her şey için başkalarını suçlar, bunun için o gece grubuyla birlikte akla hayale gelmeyecek suçlar işleyip masum insanlara işkence ederler. Peki, işkence edilenin haklılığı ve zalimin cezalandırılması söz konusu ise bu oyunun seyircisi olan bizler hangi taraftayızdır?

Titus Andronicus kitabı Shakespeare'in yazdığı ilk tragedyadır. Bu da bizi değerli çevirmen Özdemir Nutku'nun Dram Sanatı kitabına yönlendirir:

"Bu dönemin ve bütün çağların en önemli tragedya yazarı hiç kuşkusuz Shakespeare'dir." (s. 54)

Özdemir Nutku'ya göre hiç şüphesiz, bir oyunun oyun ya da bir tragedyanın da tragedya olmasını sağlayan şey seyircidir veya seyircinin o oyun içerisine girebilmesidir. Peki, Barda filmiyle Titus Andronicus kitabında seyirci hangi tarafta durur? Bizim için yazılmış kitapları okuyan okurlar, kaydedilmiş şarkıları dinleyen dinleyiciler, çekilmiş dizileri ve filmleri izleyen izleyicilerin hepsi aslında birer seyircidir ve her seyirci de okuduğu, dinlediği, izlediği şeyleri kendi seyir ve ödül-ceza anlayışına göre değerlendirme lüksüne sahiptir. Biz Barda filmindeki işkenceleri de Titus Andronicus kitabındaki vahşetleri de gördüğümüzde kendi ceza anlayışımızı ve kavrayışımızı sorgularız.

Hedefini şaşırmış ve şiddete karşı başka türde bir şiddet doğuran bu içi kof şiddet aslında Terör, Şiddet ve Toplum kitabında şu alıntıyla birlikte özetlenmiştir:

"Bugün gelmiş olduğumuz yerde, siyasi, sosyolojik, antropolojik ve sanatsal anlamda her türlü şiddet öğesinin kullanımı, hedefsiz, telos’suz ve töz’süz, nereye gittiği belli olmayan ve kendi etrafında, kendi ekseninde dönen bir şiddetin dağılması üzerine kuruludur."

Sarsılan eril hakimiyetin tekrar kurulmaya çalışılması ve erkek hegemonyasının gerek kadın üzerinde gerekse de bir devlet üzerinde sağlanmaya çalışılması hem Barda filminde Nejat İşler'in grubunun o mekanı sahiplenmesinde hem de Titus Andronicus kitabında Titus ve Romalıların kendi hükümdarlıklarını korumayı istemesinde ortaya çıkar. Bu konuda da Alman siyaset bilimci Hannah Arendt'in çok yerinde bir görüşü vardır:

"Birinin mutlak hâkimiyetini kurduğu yerde diğeri barınamaz. Şiddet iktidarın tehlikeye girdiği anda ortaya çıkar." (s. 104, Şiddet Üzerine)

Diğer bir mevzu da namus ve cinsellik konusu mesela. Kadınlık, erkekliğin kanıtlanmasının narsistik bir şekilde uygulanmaya çalışıldığı, kadın cinsinin erkek için bir araç sayılıp erkeğin onun üzerinde istediği gibi hakimiyet kurabileceği nedensiz bir şiddet döngüsünün içerisinde sıkışmıştır. Barda filmiyle Titus Andronicus'un bu yüzden birbirlerine çok benzediğini düşünüyorum. Erken dönem Shakespeare'in karakter tasarımları açısından en başarılı eserlerinden biri olduğunu çok rahat söyleyebilirim.
Profile Image for Carmo.
667 reviews472 followers
April 24, 2022
Fiquei sem pinga de sangue depois de tantas moléstias, as personagens então, ficaram sem sangue, sem mãos, sem língua, sem cabeça, sem vida. Shakespeare devia estar danado da vida quando escreveu esta peça. Ter-se-á inspirado numa passagem de Metamorfoses de Ovídeo, e em alguns diálogos refere-se a momentos sanguinolentos da Ilíada e da Eneida, mas ambas me parecem um passeio no parque comparadas com esta carnificina.
Deu-lhe um final felizinho...se tal é possível...
Profile Image for Nick Pageant.
Author 6 books888 followers
September 11, 2016
After reading Madeline's hilarious, spot-on review, I had to read this troublesome play again.

First, I'll be honest, I came to my love of Shakespeare a little late. I was raised on rodeos, not theater, and I had never bothered with plays because I figured I would not understand them, so I waited until I was forced to take a survey of Shakespeare plays in college. Thanks to a wonderful professor, I can now say that I love Shakespeare as much as the next guy of middling intellect.

This particular play is probably my least favorite because it is so damned bloody and there seems to be no reason for it. Titus kills some people, those people's people take revenge, Titus takes revenge for their revenge... see where this is headed? That being said, there are some great speeches in this work, particularly Titus' speech at the crossroads. Talk about tragic recognition... whoa.

If you're interested, Julie Taymor made a fabulous movie from this that elevates the material quite a bit. You can enjoy watching Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, and Alan Cumming chewing the scenery, but be ready for some awful, awful violence.

Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,286 followers
November 23, 2017
This play is famous for being Shakespeare’s dud, not only bad by his lofty standards but by any standard. Even Harold Bloom, who worships Shakespeare this side of idolatry, calls Titus Andronicus “ghastly bad.” The plot is mechanical and clumsy—but admittedly that’s true of many Shakespeare plays. More important, the characters are bland and flat, with the notable exception of Aaron the Moor, who nevertheless is still leagues behind the serviceable villains Iago and Edmund. But the main problem, for audiences and critics, has been the violence. This play is a bloodbath; character are not just killed, they are hacked to bits.

True idolaters of Shakespeare have attempted to defend him from this play. The most obvious defense is that he didn’t write it, or that he collaborated with someone else and only wrote the good bits. Unfortunately the available evidence seems to support the Bard’s authorship. Given the time period, it would hardly be surprising that Shakespeare could write something so violent. Elizabethan audiences were quite fond of bloodshed; and this play was wildly successful in Shakespeare’s lifetime. Harold Bloom takes a subtler approach in Shakespeare’s defense, and asserts that Shakespeare wrote this to free himself from the influence of Christopher Marlowe, by parodying Marlowe’s style to excess. This reading does have its merits. Many passages are nearly impossible to read straight:
Come, brother, take a head,
And in this hand the other will I bear
And, Lavinia, thou shalt be employ’d
Bear thou my hand, sweet wench, between thy teeth.

I agree with Bloom that these lines, the last in particular, cannot be read without a shocked chortle. And Aaron the Moor, devious plotter, is as ridiculous as Dr. Evil in his famous monologue:
Even now I curse the day—and yet, I think, / Few come within the compass of my curse— / Wherein I did not some notorious ill; / As kill a man, or devise his death; / Ravish a maid, or plot a way to do it; / Accuse some innocent, and forswear myself; / Set deadly enmity between two friends; / Make poor men’s cattle break their necks; / Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night, / And bid the owners quench them with their tears. / Oft I have digg’d up dead men from their graves, / And set them upright at their friends’ door / Even when their sorrow as almost forgot, / And on their skins, as on the bark of trees, / Have with my knife carved in Roman letters / “Let not your sorrows die, though I am dead.” / Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things / As willingly as one would kill a fly; / And nothing grieves me more heartily indeed / But that I cannot do ten thousand more.

And yet the play is rarely funny, not even unintentionally funny. Indeed, some lines have a certain gravity and grandeur, though they are often marred by melodrama. Titus’s impassioned sorrow, too, does contain a faint hint of Lear’s magnificently mad grief:
If there were reason for these miseries
Then into limits could I bind my woes
When heaven doth weep, doth not the earth o’erflow?
If the winds rage, doth not the sea wax mad,
Threatening the welkin with his big-swoln face?
And wilt thou have a reason for this coil?

But even the most charitable appraisal must rate Titus Andonicus far behind the other tragedies. Of all Shakespeare’s plays that I know, it is the most marked by its Elizabethan origins, the least able to transcend its epoch. The only indication that this playwright will go on to do bigger and greater things is Aaron the Moor, by far the most “Shakespearean” character in the play, whose tenderness for his newborn son adds an extra dimension to his villainy.

All this being said, I still must say I quite enjoyed Titus Andronicus. This is probably because we are nowadays swinging back around to Elizabethan sensibilities. In a world where Game of Thrones—far more bloody and gruesome than this play—is the most popular show in the world, Titus Andronicus is neither intolerably gory nor overly melodramatic. Indeed, I think if HBO did a production of it, they could make a lot of money.
Profile Image for Soheil Khorsand.
325 reviews198 followers
July 16, 2021
گفتار اندر معرفی نمایشنامه
تیتوس آندرونیکوس، عنوان فارسیِ خشن‌ترین و خونین‌ترین نمایشنامه‌ی«ویلیام شکسپیر» شاعر و نمایشنامه‌نویس انگلیسی‌ست که بسیاری او را بزرگترین نویسنده‌ی انگلیسی می‌دانند.
این نمایشنامه در پنج پرده نوشته و اجرا گردیده و همانطور که از عنوان آن مشخص است داستان زندگی تیتوس آندرونیکوس و فرزندان اوست.

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همه چیز از آنجایی آغاز می‌گردد که سپاهیان روم به فرماندهیِ «تیتوس آندرونیکوس» پس از حمله به یک کشور و کشته شدن شاه خود، آنجا را فتح می‌کنند و ملکه‌ی آن کشور را به همراه پسرانش به اسارت گرفته و به روم بازمی‌گردند.
پس از مجادله برای انتخاب امپراتور جدید، به شرحی که در داستان می‌خوانیم پسر امپراتور فقید(ساتورتینوس) به جای پد�� می‌نشیند، تیتوس پسرهای ملکه‌ی دشمن را اعدام می‌کند و ملکه را تحویل امپراتور می‌دهد و امپراتور نیز با او ازدواج می‌کند.
دختر تیتوس که پیشتر وعده‌ی ازدواج به باسیانوس(برادر امپراتور) داده بود با او با توجه به رویدادهای خواندنی تراژدی نهایتا ازدواج می‌کند.
در پرده‌ی بعدی چیرون و دمتریوس (پسران ملکه‌ی دشمن که حال ملکه روم نیز می‌باشد) تصمیم شومی می‌گیرند و به شکلی که در داستان می‌خوانیم ابتدا برادر امپراتور را کشته و سپس اقدام به تجاوز به لاوینیا(دختر تیتوس و همسر برادر امپراتور) می‌گیرند و پس از تجاوز دستان او را قطع و زبان او را می‌برند تا او نتواند این راز را برملا کند، تا اینکه... .

نقل‌قول نامه
"آن‌که در راه شهامت جان داد، نامش زنده است."

"از کنار آسیابان آنقدر آب می‌گذرد که آسیابان خبر ندارد!"

"صبر کنید، ای برادران رومی! ای فاتح رئوف، ای تیتوس پیروز، به اشک‌های من رقت آورید، اشک‌های مادری که از شدت اندوه برای پسرش می‌ریزد. اگر پسران تو در نظرت عزیز بوده و هستند بدان که فرزند من هم نزد من عزیز است. آیا کافی نیست که ما را به روم آورده‌ای تا وسیله‌ی آراستن ارابه‌ی پیروزیت شویم و چون اسیرانی در رکابت و زیر یوغ حاکمیت بدین جا آمده‌ایم؟ شایسته است که پسران من در کوی و برزن به قتل رسند؟ چرا؟ چون برای کشور خویش دلیرانه رزمیده‌اند؟ اگر جنگیدن در راه شاه و مردم در نظر تو مقدس است در نظر اینها هم چنین است."

"فرزندان من، با آرامش و افتخار در این‌جا بیارمید. در اینجا آسوده بخوابید و از گزند حوادث و بلایای زمانه مصون بمانید. در این‌جا دیگر خیانتی در کار نیست و حسادتی وجود ندارد و گیاهان جادویی نمی‌رویند و توفانی برنمی‌خیزد. هنگامه‌ای نیست، سکوت و سکون ابدی همه‌جا را فراگرفته است، پس ای پسران من، با آرامش و افتخار در اینجا بیارمید."

این نمایشنامه نخستین نمایشنامه‌ای بود که از ویلیام شکسپیر خواندم و با اینکه این نمایشنامه پر از خون، خشم، انتقال، خیانت، تجاوز، قتل و توطئه همراه بود از خواندن آن بسیار لذت بردم.
پنج ستاره برای این نمایشنامه منظور می‌کنم چون آن را هم‌سطح «افسانه‌های تبای» دیدم و بالاتر از «الکترا» و خواندن آن را به دوستانم نیز پیشنهاد می‌کنم.

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Profile Image for Geoff.
444 reviews1,232 followers
August 1, 2014
Historians will tell you that Titus Andronicus is pure fiction, but I've done research of my own, and I will tell you that it is without doubt the most factually-based of Shakespeare's plays. In the main, this is because there is no time that "didn't exist". After all, aren't we all still "after-Ovid"? And so of all the real people who inhabit this play's bloody spheres, who might the hero be? I would nominate Lavinia, because Lavinia, dear reader, is us. History does to us what Titus Andronicus does to Lavinia. So in this most true of Shakespeare's plays (except of course The Tempest, which is so real as to be maddening), we should more than ever think of the Bard's decree that the function of theater is to hold as 'twere the mirror up to Nature: to show virtue her feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,118 reviews3,040 followers
June 27, 2019
I don't know why but I thought that Titus Andronicus would be like Willie's history plays... somehow I got the notion that Titus himself was a war general of rebellious nature who would fight for the people of Rome. Turns out I couldn't have been more wrong. Titus Andronicus reads more like a weird mixture between Coriolanus (I am convinced that Lucius is Caius Marcius 2.0) and The Rape of Lucrece (...with more torture thrown in the mix). Oh, and cannibalism.

I've heard from other people that it's an extremely violent play and even George R.R. Martin claims to have taken some inspiration for his more brutal death scene from Willie Shakes... and when I read the hunting scene at the beginning, I can definitely see how that is true. Robert Baratheon is quaking in his seat. But even Cersei Lannister isn't as crazy and evil as Empress Tamora, if you ask me. Nonetheless, I didn't think this play was ultimately that violent. I mean, have you read Shakespeare? More people die in Richard III, at the end of King Lear basically everyone gets stabbed, poisoned or commits suicide.

Sure, Titus Andronicus might be more gory but it's also ridiculous. The violence in the play doesn't leave a heavy impact on the audience because Shakespeare wilfully plays with it. A raging Titus bakes Tamora's sons into a cake and serves it to her, for fuck's sake, you can't make that shit up. And you also can't take it serious. When the first person dies (when Titus slays his own son), I actually laughed out loud, that's how ridiculous it was.

In general, all of the characters are pretty much a hot mess. Saturninus (henceforth referred to as Saturn, don't ask me why) is initially offended by his brother Bassianus due to their brawl over Lavinia, he even threatens to kill him. But when Bassianus is actually slain in the woods (Robert Baratheon is still shook), Saturn acts all butthurt and wants to throw his murderers into prison. Saturn also thinks that the best option to get back to his brother (by taking his preferred wife Lavinia from him) is to pardon a Goth queen and wed her instead. Like, why? You don't even know this girl.

Whatever. Let's talk about Tamora then. I know she's a controversial figure, but she honestly has my heart. Willie really did her dirty though, don't get me wrong. Basically, Tamora decides to trick all of those Romans into believing that she is repenting and that she has forgiven them for slaying her two sons. However, in secret, with her lover Aaron and her remaining sons, she plots the biggest revenge the city of Rome has ever seen in its life. Through cunning and shady morals, she actually manages to dispose of Titus's sons, his daughter and Titus's hand. I liked to see how bloodthirsty and mean-spirited she was ... Lady Macbeth truly is envious.

However, the big issue that I have with Tamora is how Shakespeare involved her in the rape of Lavinia. The whole rape scene was just really disgusting (and basically a carbon copy of his The Rape of Lucrece), in which Tamora's sons truly exhibit the nasty and vile creatures they are... It kind of annoys me that Shakespeare made it seem that Tamora's actions (for not helping Lavinia) are worse than the actions of her sons (the dudes who actually raped her) because as a woman it should've been her duty to protect another woman. Lavinia even accuses her ("O Tamora, thou dearest a woman's face –"), and whilst I, of course, absolutely despise Tamora's actions in that scene, I cannot help but wonder why Shakespeare constantly tries to play into the theme of women either being absolutely pure and angelic or just vile and evil bitches. That stereotype really is old ... but so is Willie, so maybe I should give him a break.

I have a similar conflict with the character of Aaron. His actions in the play (instigating the murder of Titus's sons and thus also the rape of Lavinia) are despicable and cannot be excused. However, he is constantly reduced to his skin color. Here are some of the descriptions we get in relation to him: "his soul black like his face", "joyless, dismal, black", "a devil", "black ill-favoured fly", "coal-black Moor" etc. Countless of times his race is linked to his despicable being. The reason why I found that particularly annoying was not even the obvious racism shown in these descriptions but that therefore, Aaron wasn't even a character in this play, he was an object, a token who simply served a function.

I found that particularly jarring because we could've had an interesting discussion about race and privilege, of course not in the modern senses of these words, but when Tamora wants Aaron to kill their bastard child (the child, of course, is dark-skinned and therefore it would've been clear that it couldn't be from Saturn), Aaron actually refuses Tamora. He vows to protect their child, which is the honorable thing to do. He even says that "had nature lent thee but thy mother's look, / Villain, thou mightiest have been an emperor." The reason I find that so interesting is that Aaron basically exposes the rampant infidelity within royal families. There must be so many bastard children who were never recognised as such, simply because they resembled their "fathers" enough, so that no one would've noticed. Also, Aaron has one of the most iconic lines in all of Shakespeare's canon:
Demetrius: Villain, what hast thou done?
Aaron: That which thou canst not undo.
Chiron: Thou hast undone our mother.
Aaron: Villain, I have done thy mother.
This, folks, is why you should read Willie Shakes. ;)

But back to more serious stuff: another thing that really annoyed me (which already annoyed me in The Rape of Lucrece) is the old notion that women who were raped are no longer pure and have to kill themselves or be killed to get rid of their shame. And so, unsurprisingly, at the end of the play Titus kills his own daughter because "the girl should not survive her shame, / and by her presence still renew his [her father's / her husband's] sorrow." So, Lavinia dies and with her "her shame" and "her father's sorrow." Well, this is what I call a happy ending. Ugh, but for real, I don't think this needs unpacking. It's just a big fat YIKES! And again, I am not expecting better from Shakespeare. It still annoys me. Deal with it.

Overall, I found the play to be highly entertaining since every single character was kind of shit and a hot mess. I love a good revenge plot and I'm even more satisfied when over half of the cast is dead by the end of the play. Gotta love 'em tragedies!
Profile Image for Olivia-Savannah.
792 reviews493 followers
January 12, 2019
This was one really violent play. In fact, a little too violent for my liking. Sure, there’s usually plenty of death in Shakespeare’s works, but in this one it was all angry, vengeful and really cruel? In most of the plays I’ve read so far there have been good reason other than revenge, and if it is revenge we know the character is either debating as to whether it’s truly worth it, or we follow them for a while so we some character development before they kill. But here it just seemed like a bloody, unthinking mess, and so unlike Shakespeare? I missed his clever, skilful writing. I didn’t really read many, if any passages I liked. Lastly, Lavinia is just done so much wrong in this play. She’s clearly a victim, pleads with a women for mercy who don’t give it to her and permits her sons to do an unthinkable crime, and then is basically shamed for events out of her control until the end. I know this is a different time period but no one shows her a molecule of sympathy, or if they try to, somehow, they make it about themselves in the process. It made me incredibly angry and unhappy. I couldn’t enjoy reading this one :/

For those who want trigger warnings before they read something: trigger warning for rape.
Profile Image for Vivian.
2,848 reviews398 followers
February 20, 2019
A bit of a mess.

Let's start with the good. My craving for bloodlust was met in the last 10% of the play. Andronicus really pulls out the stops at the end and I most appreciated the banquet. Well done.
*whistles Sing a Song of Sixpence*

That said, there are elements here that were better done in other Shakespeare's plays. Treachery and the Moor storyline are far superior in Othello and it's obverse in Much Ado About Nothing. I suppose I need to read Coriolanus to get the unappreciated general and traitor theme. Of course Julius Caesar as traitor to the republic with his power grab is a different angle.

As per usual, the female characters fail to impress even with the trumped up Goth Queen Tamora. See Much Ado About Nothing for my favorite Shakespearean female--Beatrice. Lavinia, please, I would have written with the bloody stumps on the white marble walls, tearing anew the flesh as I scribed.

There's a lot of stupid in this one. Meh.
Profile Image for Inkspill.
413 reviews39 followers
August 8, 2020
I had heard about the cannibalism in this play before reading it – it left quite an impression, the wrong kind, as the play itself is engaging, dramatic and when this scene happens, I continued to root for the hero – Titus.

In some ways it’s similar to Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, Titus is also a Roman general who has fought and won many wars to keep Rome safe from the enemy, here it’s the Goths. Unlike Coriolanus, he’s personable, so the citizens of Rome like him rather than despise him – I quickly came to see why, he’s fair and humble; when he’s in the running to be Emperor against two brothers, he generously backs the older one, Saturninus. At first this seems like a heroic act but as the drama unfolds (like other Shakespearean heroes) his principals to trust what is right and honourable becomes his downfall.

The tempo of this play is quite violent, with also murders and a rape. I remember reading elsewhere how Shakespeare liked his Ovid, here I’m reminded of two of his tales, Tantalus and Philomel, where Shakespeare has refitted them into his play. Also, there were moments I felt the tone had too many isms. The villains, all non-Romans, were depicted with no morals, no god, no code, and a touch slithery, especially Aaron with his black skin, and Tamora depicted like a she-devil. I know when this play was written the world worked differently, and there are times when it’s hard not to feel these isms with my modern-day eyes but what keeps me reading is wanting to understand this journey.

Putting this aside, I enjoyed reading this play – and once again it was the poetry, the beautiful sequence of words that kept the drama going and kept me hooked to the last page.
Profile Image for Liz Janet.
579 reviews384 followers
May 4, 2016
Blood, death, revenge, blood, “I have done thy mother,” rape, involuntary cannibalism, blood.

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