Sunday, March 20, 2011

Titus Andronicus Act 2, Scene 3


well, i don't know what all the negativity is about. i am loving this play. of course, i am only part of the way through, but right now i am definitely into it. sure, a lot of my enjoyment is based on shock value, but hey... it's a nice change from the norm. anyway, if you haven't read this play and/or you're not following along, it's not too late to catch up! it's a crazy ride!!!

okie dokie. act 2, scene 3. brace yourself. i don't even know how to sum this up. it's so insane. but here goes:
Aaron comes in and buries a bag of gold. very mysterious. then Tamora comes in, proclaiming her love for Aaron and wanting to have a sexy time with him. he's not in the mood, however, he's in mind for vengeance. he also gives her a mysterious letter. Aaron goes to get Tamora's sons just before Bassianus and Lavinia enter. they rip her apart for cavorting with Aaron, and threaten to tell King Saturninus. just then, Tamora's sons enter and she tells them that Bassianus and Lavinia lured her there! she says that the area will soon be filled with snakes, frogs, and other creatures. they've threatened to tie her up and leave her for dead. she tells her sons that if they love her, they will kill him. so they stab him to death. she wants to kill Lavinia herself, but they tell her that there is more in store for Lavinia than that. Lavinia begs her to kill her then and there, and not let them rape her chaste body, but Tamora does not relent, and the sons take Lavinia away to have their way with her. (see quote below.) THEN Aaron enters with Quintus and Martius, Titus' sons. Aaron leads them to the pit where they threw Bassianus' body, and Martius falls in. Aaron sneaks off to fetch Saturninus, and Quintus is too frozen with fear to help Martius out of the pit. instead, he throws himself into the pit out of loyalty. just then Saturninus and Aaron enter. since they are in the pit with Bassianus, it follows that they likely killed him. then Tamora and Titus enter and Tamora shows Saturninus the letter, which tells of their 'plot' to kill Bassianus. afterward, Aaron digs up the gold that is alluded to in the letter, thereby further incriminating them. they all head back to town, Martius and Quintus in custody. Tamora vows to hep Titus clear his sons' names.

crazy, huh? i told you so!

so, Lavinia isn't the sweetie pie i thought she was. she's pretty sassy actually. i mean, no one deserves what happens to her, but she's no sweet-tongued lady. also, i find it interesting how the men talk about raping her. it's as if they want to punish her for being so virtuous. it's the same in The Rape of Lucrece. i wonder if the sons will have the same regrets that Tarquin had. what's with the punishing chastity thing? is it the same in Metamorphoses? it's a theme that i don't think we see these days. am i wrong? can anyone think of an example?

i am loving how deliciously bad Tamora and Aaron are. i mean, i see where Tamora's vengeance is coming from, but man is she cold! i love that we see her outright lying to everyone. even her sons! do they know she's lying about Bassianus and Lavinia? are they in on it? or is she lying to them too? either way, it's thrilling watching it all go down. for real.

death toll: 3, maybe 4. mutilation toll: 1. rape toll: 1.

i literally gasped reading this act. it's insane. my synopsis can't even do it justice. can't wait to see what's next!

quote of the day:
'had'st thou in person ne'er offended me,
even for his sake am i pitiless.
remember, boys, i pured forth tears in vain
to save your brother from the sacrifice,
but fierce Andronicus would not relent.
therefore away with her, and use her as you will--
the worst to her, the better loved of me.'
   -Tamora; act 2, scene 3

for tomorrow: act 2, scene 4

-rebecca may, non-hater of this play!


  1. The rape is about defiling purity (you want present day examples?...they won't fit here...). It is about the desire to conquer, the tyrranical way of taking whatever you want (still need those examples?). It is about revenge. (Statistically most violent crimes today deal with revenge.) It is about the "outsiders" taking over and gaining power. (Though it is a bit more dilute for us today, it was a major theme in the Roman Empire.)

  2. I have often wondered if Shakespeare was sending a message to pious, judgmental types when he wrote characters like Lavinia and Polonius. Echoing Rebecca, I do not mean to suggest these people deserved their victimhood, but I do think there is some kind of karmic law of conservation of energy at work in the world. At the very least, I admire Shakespeare's ability to create realistic personages, who are not unbelievably innocent.

    More thoughts about the rape:
    1. This plot is heavily inspired by the story of Philomel (referenced in the text). SPOILER ALERT
    2. I am reminded of a news story I recently read about the epidemic of "corrective" rape of lesbians in South Africa - a country also notorious for a high number of rapes of virgins when the act was rumored to cure AIDS. I think there's an outrage over women making and keeping themselves unavailable. How dare they?
    3. Although it does not qualify as "punishing chastity," my first thought in response to your question was the mockery of "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee."
    4. Until the advent of the self-referentially comical Kevin Williamson films, decades of horror flicks served as heavy-handed cautionary tales depicting the gruesome deaths of teenage lovers, who left virgins as sole survivors, quite the opposite of the trend we discuss here.

  3. awesome guys. thank you so much! you've given me a lot to consider!