Titus Andronicus is one of Shakespeare’s better plays written during his literary career. The fact that it was his first tragedy does not make it unworthy of study. However, it is full of violence and death opening readers up to the gruesome aspects of dismemberment and revenge. Titus Andronicus should be taught in the high school English class in order to show how Shakespeare’s writing developed over time.
The author uses some unfamiliar, to present day readers, English terminology to write his play. This makes it difficult to understand and pull out the main ideas. It is important to mention that the play is written in early modern English which is going to be found in his later works. Another important fact is that this was his first tragedy. Readers recognize the growth of Shakespeare’s writing between this work and his later plays. This one is poorly written, and the ideas used in this drama are found in his later plays. This play does not have one main recurring theme throughout the whole drama. The reader cannot focus on one specific theme because there are too many possibilities that drive the action in this play. Some of these include revenge, insanity and consequences for actions. There is so much shocking violence in the play that easily masks the theme or themes, and the reader does not have enough time to think about the importance of what causes the violence. There is sometimes an immediate violent reaction that does not have a reasonable explanation. For example, in Act III scene I, Titus cuts off his own hand. The reason for that is his growing insanity. He cuts it off in honor of his dead sons who lost their heads when wrongly accused.
Titus: Come hither, Aaron; I’ll deceive them both:
Lend me thy hand, and I will give thee mine.
Aaron: [Aside] If that be call’d deceit, I will be honest
And never, whilst I live, deceive men so:
But I’ll deceive you in another sort,
And that you’ll say,
Ere half an hour pass [cuts off Titus’ hand]. (Act III. 1)
Why would a normal man cut off his hand? There is no explanation. It is just the violence described in this entire play, but this specific example is about how to harm yourself. This never-ending violence is a secret key for understanding the play. All of Shakespeare’s plays have a special zest that makes them different from other authors. As mentioned before, the language that is used in his works confuses people, but it also brings up a memory of his past.
This quote clearly represents the difficulty that modern day readers have trying to understand this tragedy.
“ Thou hast no hands, to wipe away thy tears
Nor tongue to tell me who hath myrthered thee” ( Act III. 1).
This quote is used in one of Titus’ speeches addressing his lovely daughter after she was raped by Tamora’s sons. They cut off her hands and tongue to show their superiority. This play also allows the reader to improve their knowledge about English language terminology that is lost or no longer spoken. Why is this type of language study important? Readers need to know the history of their language. This helps readers to understand the history of the place where they came from and the history of their heritage. This aids readers in understanding the changes and improvements, in their language, over time.
If readers compare Titus to Hamlet, they find that the ideas that were used before are used again. Some people would say that it is copying, but without this, nobody would notice the difference between Shakespeare’s earlier and later writings. Hamlet is fully developed and well written, and all the ideas are clearly visible. A huge difference is that everything that happens in Hamlet leads readers to one specific theme which is power; however, in Titus Andronicus the author decided to attach all the themes which are violence, insanity, family, racism, revenge, power, and