Position Statement - Titus Andronicus Versus Othello

Topics: Titus Andronicus, Roman Empire, Tragedy Pages: 3 (1021 words) Published: April 16, 2013
English 337
Winter 2013
Race and Barbarianism in Titus Andronicus
Our team’s argument revolves around the character’s sense of revenge, retribution, and cruelty in Titus Andronicus. All the characters are aware of the cruelty that goes on around them, including the women, who are agents in their own fate. Titus uses violence and spectacle to work in its favor, as well as the character of Aaron to orchestrate the revenge. In my arguments, I posit that cruelty is an equalizer, and that instead of one group coming out as “the winner”, it destroys everyone. Everyone who commits a crime against another person is punished. Titus Andronicus is a play about superiority and race; it challenges the preconceived notions of “the barbarian”, “cruelty”, and the notion of the foreign “other”. There is an underlying irony that despite everyone seeing themselves as the most “civil” race or class, they are all capable of the same cruel acts in order to satisfy their desire for revenge. Race does not determine a character’s capability for cruelty; they are all equal, even though their societies have made them out to be “the better”. Despite each character’s recognition of their desire for revenge, they still proceed. The Roman characters, such as Titus and Marcus, who see themselves as superior is class and race to both Tamora and Aaron, hide behind their status as government officials to make cruel, very personal decisions. Titus, a decorated war hero, is capable of the same cruel actions as Tamora. His personal choice to have her son stabbed and burned proves that he no more capable of being "better" than they are. He is a Roman who is accepted and loved by the people, and is the character that sends the world of the play spiralling down. Titus, who kills his own son in 1.2, proves his capability in “that someone's basic, human interests are undermined by a higher or more powerful authority” (Koumakpai 75). He puts the city of Rome before his family, and kills his own son as...

Cited: Koumakpai, Taofiki. "Revenge Tragedy in Shakespeare 's Hamlet and Titus Andronicus." Science Sociales et Humaines. 7.1. (2006): 72-78. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.
Willbern, David. “Rape and Revenge in Titus Andronicus.” English Literary Renaissance. 8.2. (1978): 159-182. Web. 26 Mar 2013.
Willis, Deborah. “”The Gnawing Vulture”:  Revenge, Trauma Theory, and Titus Andronicus”. Shakespeare Quarterly. 53.1 (2002): 21-52. Web. 21 Mar 2013.
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