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MonkeyNotes-Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
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Scene 2

Summary

Young Lucius presents Demetrius and Chiron, with weapons from Titus. They fail to understand the significance of the verse written on the scroll that comes attached to the weapons but Aaron realizes that Titus knows them to be guilty of their crimes against Lavinia. He however does not tell Tamora or her sons about it. Tamora gives birth to Aaron’s son who is as black as the Moor himself. Tamora sends it to Aaron to kill it. Demetrius and Chiron are also bent on destroying it as this sight of the black baby will destroy their mother’s name. Aaron declares that he will kill anyone who tries to harm his child. He kills the nurse and gets a fair child to replace his son, one that will be passed off as Saturninus’ son. Then he plans to kill the midwife as well so that this fact remains a secret. He decides to entrust his son to be brought up by a trusting Goth.


Notes

Titus deterioration into bestiality is counter-pointed by the brilliant development of Aaron in this scene. While the play seems to be breaking into fantasies of angels and devils, Aaron remains uncompromisingly human: not ‘good’ but with a solid reality that is lacking in the other figures. His speech has a far more flexible speech rhythm, which at once distinguishes him. And this quality of his emerges in action when the Empress’ black baby is revealed where Aaron displays contempt for the lives and worries of anyone else. His paternal pride is seen in his actions to preserve his baby’s life. Although everybody opposes him, he still defends his son, and it is this courage of his that arouses admiration in the minds of the reader. This scene, coming as it does on the heels of the one dominated by Titus, serves as an opportunity to contrast the two men. Titus is metamorphosed into a beast; Aaron has no metamorphosis he develops as a beast straight from the earth. But in his instinctual assurance of behavior there is a power which seems impressively sane when contrasted with the advancing insanity of Titus.

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