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MonkeyNotes-Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
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Act II, Scene 1

Summary

Aaron, beloved of Tamora, reveals his intention to use her power, as the empress of Rome, to further himself. He comes upon Demetrius and Chiron fighting each other over Lavinia about who should seduce Lavinia. Aaron warns them that Bassianus would punish them for having such wicked thoughts about her. Aaron points out the futility of their desire as Lavinia is a very virtuous lady and suggests another course. He informs them that she can be found walking in the forest, as is the habit of Roman ladies. He lures them with the idea that they should abduct her and then have their way with her. Both the brothers agree to this idea. decide to abduct her and have their way with her in the forest.


Notes

Act II opens with Aaron’s vaunting soliloquy of ambition. His soliloquy also serves a choric function of informing the reader of his real relationship with Tamora and it anticipates the power he will gain by this association with her. The tone is a new one: it has a vaunting hyperbole and the heroic pitch is sustained in the simile of the sun which, "gallops the zodiac in his glistering coach."

His soliloquy is very revealing for not only does it reveal his sexual relations with Tamora but it also establishes the theme of ambition. His exultant speech adds a new theme to the tragic foundations of the play-the ethos of a man who has contempt for human littleness, centered here on Tamora’s fortunes and her relations with Aaron.

The pitch lowers abruptly with the entry of Tamora’s sons, Chiron and Demetrius who wrangling over their "love" for Lavinia. Aaron’s rebuke deflates them, "This petty brabble will undo us all" and later, "why, then, it seems some certain snatch or so/ would serve your turns." The splendor of ambition is dramatically translated into bestial lust in the radial change of tone.

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