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To what extent does the tragedy of Titus Andronicus unfold from the protagonist and his actions?

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Introduction

To what extent does the tragedy of Titus Andronicus unfold from the protagonist and his actions? The tragic events that take place throughout the play of Titus Andronicus all come from the catalyst of Titus slaying Tamora's eldest son, Alarbus. Tamora begged for Alarbus' life as the crime he's accused of is protecting his own people. At this point his murder is unnecessary and unjust. A murder being defined as an unlawful killing and whilst at the time the play was written this may have been considered unjust, to an audience today it would not constitute death. From this point onwards all else becomes an act of revenge from this original deed. In the very first instance of the play we have many impressions given of Titus in a very small amount of time. Titus comes into the play with all the honour and nobility you'd expect of a Roman hero, as 'Shakespeare draws on the standard motifs of austere republican virtue that typify Rome's "great ethical heroes"'. He follows this seemingly heroic entrance with his interaction with Tamora, in contrast he appears as a harsh, unfeeling character here. Despite this harshness we see when given the opportunity to become emperor he refuses the power in light of his traditionalism, an aspect of his character that truly is his downfall as if he had accepted this offer he would have become emperor, preventing Tamora gaining any power and demolishing any chances of the subsequent tragedy. ...read more.

Middle

Later in the play as Tamora, Chiron and Demetrius appear as Revenge, Rape and Murder we begin to question Titus' sanity as do the mother and her sons. There is a big question as to whether or not he has lost his sanity, in the Hopkins adaptation we see a clear depiction of a man who has completely gone insane. However the BBC version leaves it as some what of a question, though you see glimpses of his sanity, questioning whether he is playing his own trick on Tamora. It is here we first see how truly single minded Titus can be as even in moments of anguish and despair all he can think of is enacting his revenge. Here the readers opinion of Titus can easily split in many directions; if it is seen as a man gone mad then the reader will feel sympathy for Titus. However some see it as an attempt to fool Tamora in which case you begin to see him as somewhat of a villain because of his single mindedness. The ravished, deformed presence of Lavinia is an almost physical appearance of the mental anguish and turmoil Titus suffers himself; she's the torment he suffers from as a result of his intent of revenge. As his only daughter, and the favoured treatment we see her receive from Titus, it can be assumed that they have a far more caring and gentle relationship than that of any others in the ...read more.

Conclusion

by continuing with this murder it's as if he is admitting that he holds no feelings of protection over his children. This quote also automatically makes you compare the two characters and so the audience immediately get this very same impression. This impression is that Tamora seems to appear more successful and just with her intents, her revenge is based on the act of Titus killing her son, and she them proceeds in alienating Titus and tormenting both him and his children. The theme of severed limbs that runs throughout the play is often thought to be a representative of the corruption within Roman society; during the Renaissance the human body was associated with 'the political order of a state' and so 'ravaged bodies correspond to the political turmoil in the declining Roman empire'. The play is a cycle beginning and ending with the Roman empire and on both occasions is referred to as a human body. A cycle also appears with the theme of revenge as each character seeks revenge and retaliates the others actions, this particular cycle begins and ends with the act of murder, broken only when Titus and Tamora are both murdered. The tragedy of this play is not just the actions themselves but the cycle of it, the characters inability to get themselves out of this destructive cycle. Roman Shakespeare: warriors, wounds, and women, Routledge, 1997 Sparknotes 101: Shakespeare, Spark Educational Publishing, 25 Jan 2004 ...read more.

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