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MonkeyNotes-Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
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THEMES

Major

The main theme of the play is the vengeance that Titus Andronicus takes on his enemies. The first part of the play focuses on the wrongs that are done to Titus and his family and then comes his determination to seek revenge. The rest of the play focuses exclusively on how he first plans and then executes revenge on all who have brought him grief. These include Tamora, her sons and Aaron. He is encouraged in his plans by the silent but effective presence of his mutilated daughter Lavinia. He is prepared to go to any lengths to destroy his enemies. The second part of the play shows his obsession with the thought of revenge to the exclusion of everything else: he keeps himself locked in his study constructing plans of revenge for all those who have caused him hurt.

Minor

The Minor theme of the play deals with the metamorphoses of man when he is in grip of a strong emotion. This is best exemplified by Titus’ metamorphosis. His grief causes him to break out into insane laughter; so strong it is causes his to transform form a noble loyal Roman general to a man who is hell - lent on destroying his enemies at any cost. So much so that he commands his son to gather an army of Goths against Rome. A similar kind of metamorphosis is also evident in Tamora and Lavinia. The sacrifice of Aarabus by Titus hardens Tamora’s heart against any pleas that Lavinia makes. Similarly, the cruel fate that Lavinia suffers at the hands of Tamora’s sons causes her to lust after revenge and she is frantic until she reveals their identity. She supports Titus in his revenge plan against their enemies.


MOOD

‘Titus Andronicus’ is a tragic play and its mood is congruent with the type of play it is. A tragedy is a story of exceptional suffering and calamity, leading to the death of the hero, who is intensely committed to his chosen course of action, and who is responsible for what happens. The play, from the very beginning, is marked with violence, cruelty and brutality. It is seen not only in the ‘barbaric’ Goths but in the ‘noble’ Romans as well. Violence of emotion leads the characters to extremes of action-Titus killing his own son, Tamora allowing murder and rape, Titus committed to a course of inhuman revenge. It is a play about passions, but all the darker passions, of lust, anger, revenge, and wickedness. The mood is lightened very rarely, one instance is Aaron’s attachment to his new - born son and his safety, other wise the play focuses exclusively on darker emotions and their dire consequences.

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