Titus Andronicus ★✬☆☆☆

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Title: Titus Andronicus
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play
Pages: 219
Words: 63K


From Wikipedia

Shortly after the death of the Roman emperor, his two sons, Saturninus and Bassianus, quarrel over who will succeed him. Their conflict seems set to boil over into violence until a tribune, Marcus Andronicus, announces that the people’s choice for the new emperor is Marcus’s brother, Titus, who will shortly return to Rome from a victorious ten-year campaign against the Goths. Titus arrives to much fanfare, bearing with him as prisoners Tamora, Queen of the Goths, her three sons Alarbus, Chiron, and Demetrius, and her secret lover, Aaron the Moor. Despite Tamora’s desperate pleas, Titus sacrifices her eldest son, Alarbus, to avenge the deaths of twenty-five of his own sons during the war. Distraught, Tamora and her two surviving sons vow to obtain revenge on Titus and his family.

Meanwhile, Titus refuses the offer of the throne, arguing that he is not fit to rule and instead supporting the claim of Saturninus, who then is duly elected. Saturninus tells Titus that for his first act as emperor, he will marry Titus’s daughter Lavinia. Titus agrees, although Lavinia is already betrothed to Saturninus’s brother, Bassianus, who refuses to give her up. Titus’s sons tell Titus that Bassianus is in the right under Roman law, but Titus refuses to listen, accusing them all of treason. A scuffle breaks out, during which Titus kills his own son, Mutius. Saturninus then denounces the Andronici family for their effrontery and shocks Titus by marrying Tamora. Putting into motion her plan for revenge, Tamora advises Saturninus to pardon Bassianus and the Andronici family, which he reluctantly does.

During a royal hunt the following day, Aaron persuades Demetrius and Chiron to kill Bassianus so that they may rape Lavinia. They do so, throwing Bassianus’s body into a pit and dragging Lavinia deep into the forest before violently raping her. To keep her from revealing what has happened, they cut out her tongue and cut off her hands. Meanwhile, Aaron writes a forged letter, which frames Titus’s sons Martius and Quintus for the murder of Bassianus. Horrified at the death of his brother, Saturninus arrests Martius and Quintus and sentences them to death.

Some time later, Marcus discovers the mutilated Lavinia and takes her to her father, who is still shocked at the accusations levelled at his sons, and upon seeing Lavinia, he is overcome with grief. Aaron then visits Titus and falsely tells him that Saturninus will spare Martius and Quintus if either Titus, Marcus, or Titus’ remaining son, Lucius, cuts off one of their hands and sends it to him. Though Marcus and Lucius are willing, Titus has his own left hand cut off by Aaron and sends it to the emperor. However, a messenger brings back Martius’s and Quintus’s severed heads, along with Titus’s own severed hand. Desperate for revenge, Titus orders Lucius to flee Rome and raise an army among their former enemy, the Goths.

Later, Lavinia writes the names of her attackers in the dirt, using a stick held with her mouth and between her arms. Meanwhile, Aaron is informed that Tamora has secretly given birth to a mixed-race baby, fathered by Aaron, which will draw Saturninus’s wrath. Though Tamora wants the baby killed, Aaron kills the nurse to keep the child’s race a secret and flees to raise his son among the Goths. Thereafter, Lucius, marching on Rome with an army, captures Aaron and threatens to hang the infant. In order to save the baby, Aaron reveals the entire revenge plot to Lucius.

Back in Rome, Titus’s behaviour suggests he might be deranged. Convinced of Titus’s madness, Tamora, Demetrius, and Chiron (dressed as the spirits of Revenge, Murder, and Rape, respectively) approach Titus in order to persuade him to have Lucius remove his troops from Rome. Tamora (as Revenge) tells Titus that she will grant him revenge on all of his enemies if he convinces Lucius to postpone the imminent attack on Rome. Titus agrees and sends Marcus to invite Lucius to a reconciliatory feast. Revenge then offers to invite the Emperor and Tamora as well, and is about to leave when Titus insists that Rape and Murder stay with him. When Tamora is gone, Titus has Chiron and Demetrius restrained, cuts their throats, and drains their blood into a basin held by Lavinia. Titus tells Lavinia that he will “play the cook”, grind the bones of Demetrius and Chiron into powder, and bake their heads into two pies.

The next day, during the feast at his house, Titus asks Saturninus if a father should kill his daughter when she has been raped. When Saturninus answers that he should, Titus kills Lavinia and tells Saturninus of the rape. When the Emperor calls for Chiron and Demetrius, Titus reveals that they were baked in the pie Tamora has just been eating. Titus then kills Tamora and is immediately killed by Saturninus, who is subsequently killed by Lucius to avenge his father’s death. Lucius is then proclaimed Emperor. He orders that Titus and Lavinia be laid in their family tomb, that Saturninus be given a state burial, that Tamora’s body be thrown to the wild beasts outside the city, and that Aaron be hanged. Aaron, however, is unrepentant to the end, regretting only that he did not do more evil in his life. Lucius decides Aaron deserves to be buried chest-deep as punishment and left to die of thirst and starvation, and Aaron is taken away to be punished thus.

My Thoughts:

The last time I read some Shakespeare was last year in August when I made it through Richard III. I needed a break and so of course, once I’m back, I start out with Titus Andronicus, possibly the most violent, the most disturbing and the most outlandish of all his plays. I’m going to keep the “Synopsis” and “My Thoughts” format for Shakespeare even while I’ve abandoned it for all the rest of the books I read. I want a place I can put the entire synopsis from Wikipedia and then easily hide it with the details code. I don’t ever plan on reading Shakespeare again but I do want to know what each play is about.

Ugh. Titus murders his own son. His daughter is raped and maimed. He chops off his own hand. Another son is sent into exile. He kills the men who raped his daughter, bakes their flesh into a pie and feeds it to the mother of the men. He then dies himself.

Good times on the Good Ship Lollypop, eh? Not even Shirley Temple could have tap danced this into a happy story. There were several times I was just about ready to call it quits on Shakespeare and to let him rot in his mouldering grave. But I forged ahead because I was wearing my Big Boy Pants and that’s what you do. All I can say is that whatever I read next from Shakespeare had better be better than this play.


23 thoughts on “Titus Andronicus ★✬☆☆☆

  1. Experts figure Shakespeare didn’t actually write most of this. It’s all over-the-top in the way some of the drama tried to play at the time to get an audience. Same thing happens today. Has some great moments though. Like “Sorrow concealed, like an oven stopped, Doth burn the heart to cinders where it is.”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow I’m very unversed in Shalespeare and this makes me want to read him even less! Even if I am a heathen 🙂 The bit about baking the rapists into pie- George RR Martin riffed off that in Game of thrones… I guess all ideas are old ideas, as they say.

    Funny thing about the flagged post. I’m not sure if Blogger just flags stuff or if someone “reported” it. I had some nimrod last year on Twitter tell me I was a “bad movie reviewer”… clearly missing the point that my reviews are decidedly tongue in cheek. So maybe someone like that *who know*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far, this has been the only really objectionable play of his that I’ve read.

      I didn’t realize blogger even had that capability. Do you get an email or is your post deleted or how does it work? I’m very curious now 🙂


      1. I got an email. And Blogger kindly informed with a little note in my dashboard. But I’m seeing other people similar things, so maybe they really are somehow flagging these through automated means or ehatever? And of course there are “mature” blogs that have that warning before you can access ANY of the blog’s contents, so maybe this is no bog deal?

        I’m a criminal now 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for explaining. That is outrageous, as blogger is a dead platform that google just hasn’t gotten around to cleaning up yet, sigh. I hope this isn’t the start of the end 😦

          I always wanted to know a criminal. So I guess this is my lucky day, hahahha 🙂


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