Literary Analysis Essay of William Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’

Literary Analysis Essay of William Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’

William Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’ is one of the most morbid plays he has written. It is a tragedy which focuses on the aspect of revenge. Different scenes are depicted with aggression, sexual assault, brutality and massacre at the end. Examining closely, Shakespeare wrote this play using poetry to depict the interaction of characters in their respective situations. By carefully breaking down the different sections of the play, viewers are able to uncover themes that depict the dark side of humanity, which remain to be influenced by quest for power, revenge and violence within familial relations.

Looking closely, one of the most important themes that are apparent in the play corresponds to the application of revenge. Arguably, this perspective does not necessarily apply to Titus Andronicus alone but also to Tamora. This continuing cycle of vengeance arguably remained to be essential in the play because it enabled Shakespeare to highlight the animalistic tendencies of man when they reach their limit (Yoshino 204). In addition, the theme of revenge remains to be an essential instrument prompting the development of the story. For instance, the retaliation of Tamora is a response to Titus Andronicus action of killing one of her sons as a sacrifice (Shakespeare 1). These in turn presents audiences with the realization that the promotion of revenge is advocated using different motivations. For Tamora it remains to seek retribution for the death of her children while for Titus Andronicus, it comes getting even and preserving the Roman rite of sacrifice.

Another important theme presented by the play corresponds to the interaction between power and violence. Specifically, the relationship demonstrates how power is utilized to advance violence to different characters in the story. Arguably, there are different situations where this behavior is manifested. For example, the ability of Tamora to plan out her revenge to Titus Andronicus children was made possible due to her emergence into power (Shakespeare 1). Here, she used her influence to advance her cause and take action. Equally, the same can be seen with Titus Andronicus. Holding the leadership position in the Roman Empire enables him not only to advance brutal Roman rites of self-sacrifice but also plan out a sinister plot involving Tamora’s remaining children (Amir 23). All these in turn become the catalyst that furthered the bloodshed and almost annihilated the ruling family.

Gender relations are also a valuable theme to consider in the story. From how Shakespeare presents the play, men have a dominant role and most of the women remain to be subjugated or prescribed specific roles and functions. Equally, they remain to be treated as property and can be sold. The case of Tamora is a clear example of this case as she was made Saturninus wife despite being queen of the Goths. However, Tamora presents a different personality. Her persona remains to be strong and though described as antagonist in the story, Shakespeare offers viewers a deeper perspective in her motivations to act in a certain way. Arguably, gender remains to be an important component in seeking to appreciate how these shaped the promotion of revenge and violence among characters in the story.

Overall, Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare is one of the vicious tragedies of the playwright. Focusing on issues related to power and revenge, the play is able to showcase how far man can go in order to pursue their objectives and goals. The strong feelings of a mother (Tamora) and the necessity of redeeming his loss (Titus Andronicus) remain to be valuable principles that enabled characters to act accordingly. All these became instrumental in prompting the continued bloodshed within the ruling family until only Lucius; the remaining survivor is left to heal all wounds caused by the debacle.

Works Cited

Amir, Ala Dhafir. ‘The Theme of Revenge in William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus’ Journal of the College Arts, University of Basrah. 57(2011): 18-37.

Shakespeare, William. ‘Titus Andronicus’ Web. Accessed 6 August 2014. 

Yoshino, Ken. ‘Revenge as Revenant: Titus Andronicus and the Rule of Law’ Yale Journal of Law & Humanities, 21.2(13 Sept. 2009): 203-225.