Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Titus Andronicus Act 3, Scene 2 and Act 4, Scene 1


well today was a surprising read. i was ready for more blood and guts. i mean, last time Titus' sons' heads were given to him. and Aaron chopped off Titus' hand. it was a gruesome day. so today's read caught me off guard. there's no blood or guts at all! innnnterestinggg. i've got a long night of rehearsal and research, so let's get into it!

act 3, scene 2
Titus, Marcus, Lavinia, and young Lucius are gathered together for dinner. Titus is losing it. he also promises Lavinia that he will learn how to communicate with her. Marcus sees a fly and kills it, and Titus freaks out. he says that the fly is an innocent creature and no brother of his would kill an innocent. (see quote below.) Marcus is dumbfounded, but in a stroke of genius tells Titus that the reason he killed the fly was because it reminded him of Aaron the Moor. Titus forgives him and strikes the fly with the knife himself. Titus takes Lavinia and young Lucius away to read with them.

act 4, scene 1
young Lucius enters, running away from Lavinia, who is chasing him. Titus tells him that there is no reason to be afraid of Lavinia. they try to figure out what she is trying to tell them. she takes one of young Lucius' books and uses her stumps to flip to the right page. the book is Ovid's Metamorphoses, and the story is of Philomel's rape. they realize that Lavinia must have been jumped in the woods and raped like Philomel was. Marcus shows Lavinia how she can use a stick to write in the sand by holding it in her mouth and moving it with her arms. she writes 'Rape. Chiron. Demetrius.' Marcus and Titus are enraged and swear revenge. Lucius volunteers to help Titus, and they leave with Lavinia while Marcus minds the house.

why is Marcus left to mind the house? i know he's not a warrior, but neither is young Lucius? why is it preferable to have the boy with him rather than a full-grown man?

in the first scene, it seems to me that Titus is really losing it. i mean, he freaks out about Marcus killing a fly. but it feels like he's fine in the next scene. is he just going nuts because he's idle and can't figure out what to do, but is fine once he has some direction? or is he going to continue to crumble? what's the deal?

who will end up on the top of the heap? Titus and co.? Tamora and Aaron? Saturninus? can't wait to find out!

death, mutilation, and rape tolls stay the same.

quote of the day:
'"but"? how if that fly had a father and mother?
how would he hang his slender gilded wings
and buzz lamenting doings in the air!
poor harmless fly,
that, with his pretty buzzing melody,
came here to make us merry! and thou hast  killed him.'
   -Titus; act 3, scene 2

for tomorrow: act 4, scene 2

-rebecca may


  1. I love reading all of the instances of racism in this play and OTHELLO. We've talked about the way Shakespeare shines a light on sexism, and, of course, anti-semitism, too. I marvel at how progressive he was, or how retrograde the majority of the world has been to not achieve greater advancement toward equality over the centuries.

    Reading a timeline in one of our PCAD texts last semester, I was interested to learn that Shakespeare died three years before the first African slaves were brought to the American mainland. Although I assume the Spanish had slaves in the Caribbean prior to that time, this information gave me a new context for these plays. I had always assumed that racist expressions of the inferiority and essential immorality of black people were (perhaps created expressly to be) used to assuage guilt and justify taking advantage of the economic benefits of slavery. Now, I suspect such notions were widely accepted even before that circumstance.

  2. oh wow, Susan. that gave me a lot to think about. THANK YOU!