Titus Andronicus
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Titus Andronicus

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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  12,911 ratings  ·  655 reviews
"I feel that I have spent half my career with one or another Pelican Shakespeare in my back pocket. Convenience, however, is the least important aspect of the new Pelican Shakespeare series. Here is an elegant and clear text for either the study or the rehearsal room, notes where you need them and the distinguished scholarship of the general editors, Stephen Orgel and A. R...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1589)
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Madeline
Literally years after people began suggesting that I do this, I finally got around to reading the damn play. So in the words of Bette Davis: fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night. Because here's

TITUS ANDRONICUS, ABRIDGED:

TITUS: Man, it's great to be me! I'm an awesome general, all my super-handsome sons are awesome, I have a hot daughter who's engaged to a great guy, and even though the emperor just married my enemy Queen Tamora I'm sure that can never backfire on me! Yessireee,...more
Caris
Holy fuck.

I have found my Shakespeare.

Meet Titus. He’s having a good day. He just returned from a successful battle, leading the Romans to victory. He’s a national hero. The Emperor favors him and has decided to take Titus’s daughter as a wife. Things couldn’t be better.

Until the Emperor changes his mind and decides to marry the leader of the people Titus just defeated. The very woman who was denied Titus’s mercy when she begged him not to chop her son to pieces as a sacrifice. Hindsight, they s...more
TK421
BEST. REVENGE. STORY. EVER. PERIOD.

The only piece of advice I can give is: Prepare yourself, you are about to enter into a world that knows no bounds when it comes to the old saying "enough is enough." Billy saw the line, spit on the line, and then crossed the line.

If reading Shakespeare isn't high on your list, there is an excellent movie called Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins.

Just try not to read/watch it before supper...it may spoil your appetite.


VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Carmen
Jun 25, 2014 Carmen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Shelves: classics, fiction
WARNING: SPOILERS SPRINKLED HAPHAZARDLY THROUGHOUT THE REVIEW

Cannibalism, rape, many murders, dismemberment, torture, and infanticide.

Shakespeare?

Widely regarded as Shakespeare's worst, most despicable play, some people defend him by saying he didn't even write it - that he was just credited with it and it was penned by another.

It's not really the play that comes to mind when people think of old Bill. :)

The Emperor dies. Will Saturninus, the older son, or Bassianus, the kinder son, get the thro...more
Bram
This one is tough to review; after a few days of reflection, I think my difficulty in assessing and/or analyzing Titus Andronicus lies in its straightforwardness. I’d like to be able to comment on character ambiguities, on the glimpses of hope amidst the darkness and slaughter, on Shakespeare’s intentions and achievements outside of the horrifying entertainment on the surface. But I’ve got nothing, really. Even Titus’s young grandson Lucius, a seemingly inconsequential character, just wants to e...more
Geoff
Historians will tell you that Titus Andronicus is pure fiction, but I've done research of my own, and I will tell you that it is without doubt the most factually-based of Shakespeare's plays. In the main, this is because there is no time that "didn't exist". After all, aren't we all still "after-Ovid"? And so of all the real people who inhabit this play's bloody spheres, who might the hero be? I would nominate Lavinia, because Lavinia, dear reader, is us. History does to us what Titus Andronicus...more
Jason
Dec 08, 2008 Jason rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: natural born killers, droogs, the devil's rejects
I take a cue from Harold Bloom, who said Titus Andronicus should not be taken seriously at all, and would make the smoothest transition to film if directed by Mel Brooks. It is pure insanity, absolutely rip-roaring, inconceivable madness. Take Popeye (Titus):



and his arch-nemesis Bluto (Saturninus):

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the witch from Snow White (or some other awful beast of a bitch—Tamora)



coupled with Don Logan from Sexy Beast, but in black-face (Aaron, the moor):

+ [image error]

as well as Yosemite Sa...more
Bill  Kerwin

Like "A Comedy of Errors," "Titus Andronicus" is part of a grammar-school-educated Shakespeare's crash-course substitute for a university education. In "Errors," he imitated Plautine comedy's plot structure and stock characters, and--in an experiment to see just how much fun the form could hold--doubled the number of comic misunderstandings by doubling the number of identical twins. In "Titus," he imitates the violent plots and magisterial rhetoric of Senecan tragedy, and--again as an experiment...more
Melissa Rudder
I am going to write my review of William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus with only a reader’s response critique, because it actually seems like the most powerful type I can offer.

My first response when reading the play was to think that it wasn’t Shakespeare. (The origins of some plays accredited to Willy are hotly debated, and Titus’ story is one of them.) About half way through, I realized that I was questioning who authored Titus Andronicus because I was *hoping* that it wasn’t Shakespeare. T...more
Terence
Jan 17, 2009 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: Mr. Hartman, 12th grade English
Titus Andronicus is one of Shakespeare's earliest tragedies. A detail that comes through in many aspects of the play, particularly its over-the-top, in-your-face violence. Little is left to the audience's imagination except for the rape and mutilation of Lavinia and the execution of Quintus and Martius, Titus' sons.

Many would like to distance Shakespeare from this play. As if it were a piece of hackwork he threw together to pay the rent but it's actually quite Shakespearean, if a bit rough aroun...more
Manny
I am shocked, shocked, shocked that this play is officially attributed to Shakespeare. I suppose there is some tenuous evidence linking him to it, but, come on guys, it would never stand up in court. And, in particular, it should never stand up on Goodreads, which has such inordinately high standards concerning questions of authorship.

Let's be reasonable: if the official policy is that the Quran is supposed to be listed as "by Anonymous", then surely the same label is appropriate here? Though I...more
Jesse
Reading Titus Andronicus turned me into one of those most hated audience members—you know, the kind that guffaws cynically at every tragic plot twist, that seems to laugh out of simple reflex, not wanting to let anything too terrifying or troubling get too close for emotional comfort. I'll admit, with every horrific stage direction (the infamous "enter... Lavinia, her hands cut off and her tongue cut out, and ravished"), and every unbelievable—and unbelievably cruel—narrative development (Chiron...more
Kay
Jan 11, 2013 Kay rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the likes of hannibal lecter and jack the ripper
It seems Billy Shakes was relieving some blood rage with this one.

This play relates a violent and gory cycle of revenge between Titus, a Roman general, and Tamora, the Queen of the Goths. I’d say it’s like the Oresteia on crack, but the events of the Oresteia are nowhere near as fucked up as in this play. The atrocities reach shocking heights, including but not limited to, rape, mutilation, and cutting off tongues—and that's just the crap committed against one person in the span of, like, an ho...more
G.R. Reader
Lends substance to the persistent rumor that Shakespeare was one of the screenwriters for Saw 3.
Ellen
Think Quentin Tarantino and Kill Bill: Vol. 2.

Screw Hamlet’s anguished indecision, Macbeth’s squeamishness, Lear’s wails in the wilderness, or Lady Macbeth’s protracted guilt. This is Shakespeare’s action adventure, where characters act seemingly on impulse, and no deed is too terrible to contemplate. Shakespeare drains Titus Andronicus of the type of internal monologues typically characterizing his serious plays, and serves us – literally and figuratively – relentless revenge. Yet, in the mann...more
skein
Hamlet is better-written; but Titus is more fun.

Okay, but really. The characters are cruel and sarcastic. After his daughter is raped and tortured, his son dead by his hands, his son-in-law murdered, and his own hand removed in a wicked, failed plot to save the life of (yet more) sons - after all this, and I skipped over a good bit - Titus mocks the hell out of his brother, the good Marcus, who kills a fly at the dinner table.

A deed of death done on the innocent
Becomes not Titus' brother: get t
...more
Edward
This early Shakespeare play is easy to remember - it's the one with the most dismembered body parts. If I didn't lose count, there are three lopped-off hands, a ripped-out tongue, two decapitations, two rapes (more threatened),a father who kills both a son and daughter (and he's the "hero"!)and the piece de resistance, the heads of two sons that have been ground up and made into a pastry, unwittingly eaten by their mother at a feast. The perfect "revenge"? At any rate a unrelenting bloodbath of...more
Chris
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Morgan
The Roman war hero, Titus Andronicus, returns home from battle with the Queen of the Goths, her three sons and Aaron. After Titus kills one of Queen Tamora's sons, he soon learns that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

This early Shakespearian play the the best revenge story that I have ever found. The lengths that Tamora went to in order to avenge her son's death is amazing and slightly disturbing. Typical to other Shakespearian tragedies the action is intense in the first three acts, show...more
Lauren
1. I'm going to come out and say it: the Roman plays are the best plays.
2. How in the HELL did Shakespeare put this thing on stage? So many body parts are lost!
3. Drama drama drama.
Glenn
I don't think I'll get much argument by calling Titus Andronicus Shakespeare's most hated play. Some critics hate so much that they question whether or not their beloved bard actually penned it. T.S. Eliot called it “one of the stupidest and most uninspired plays ever written.” A hundred years after it was first performed playwright Edward Ravenscroft called it's structure “Rubbish” (yes, with a capital R).

Where's the love for Titus? What do people have against it? Maybe it's the ultraviolence....more
§--
There are a few good lines, good moments, but mostly this is just garbage. None of the characters feel like real people. It's hard to believe Shakespeare wrote this, even if he was in his 20's at the time [Wikipedia says he didn't write the first two Acts, but still...:]. It's simply bathetic: Titus has 25 sons, 21 are dead before the play even starts; he kills one for no good reason and then refuses to bury him; there's a total of 14 murders, a couple of rapes; Lavinia gets her tongue and hands...more
Toni
One play by Shakespeare that was very popular in the playwright’s time but is seldom performed today is Titus Andronicus. There are reasons for that which aren’t limited to severe violence (14 killings, 6 body parts cut off, 1 live burial, insanity and very bizarre behaviors. Oh, and an entertaining and cleverly planned dinner that presents several surprises that are—-satisfying? The poet T. S. Eliot calls this play “one of the stupidest and uninspiring plays ever written.” And Harold Bloom, rev...more
Brady
I've always been told that Shakespeare plays are better seen than read. Bereft of a nearby theater showing this wonderful, evil tragedy, I did my best to stage the play in my mind.

Titus Andronicus was a slobbering maniac through most of my head-play. Well, the actor was playing him straight through the first two acts, then went for slightly unhinged as Titus pleaded with rocks at the beginning of Act III, then went total batshit crazy when he saw his mutilated daughter being brought in by Marcu...more
Alissa
When English high school and junior high school teachers are trying to engage their young students (especially the young male students), I have no idea why they don't require this Shakespeare reading. What young person doesn't enjoy a play rife with murder, betrayal, rape, dismemberment, decapitation and cannibalism? Why they usually start with Romeo and Juliet I'll never know.

That said, this play is intense in its ultraviolence and monstrous treatment of some characters (poor Lavinia!), but it'...more
Kyle Maddox
One of the more intriguing—though unfortunately least recognized—Shakespeare plays, Titus Andronicus is a gruesome, yet refreshing, departure from his normal style of storytelling. Written during an era when revenge plays were popular, the plot is both captivating and disturbing, involving themes rarely touched upon in Shakespeare’s other works. It seems the problem that people typically have with this play, aside from the gore, is an apparent lack of character development or depth. While this m...more
Ray
Some have called Titus Andronicus a revenge tragedy. I think it would be more appropriately termed a "revenge orgy," because a heinously violent act is committed in nearly every scene. I would never want to see this play for that reason, but it was fascinating to read. Shakespeare's poetry is, of course beautiful, which provides a sharp contrast to the gruesome gore of the play. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this play is the opportunity to see young Shakespeare honing his skills: this i...more
Abe Goolsby
Surely the most savage and disturbing of Shakespeare's plays. I sometimes find it useful to draw comparisons between certain real-life situations and Shakespeare's plays, which frequently (and regrettably) is all too easy to do. I'll now be telling folks that, "y'know there's Julius Caesar tragic, there's Macbeth tragic, and there's Romeo and Juliet tragic—and then there's Titus Andronicus tragic", which is to say, all messed-up in a disturbingly psychopathic way. Grotesque human sacrifice, rape...more
Brian
I thought I'd picked up "Titus Andronicus and Zombies," or some other such fan-fiction, but apparently this was the real deal. It is certainly the strangest Shakespeare play I've read so far. One minute Titus is all set to become emperor, the next he is slaying his own son because his son disagreed with him about marrying off Titus's daughter to a different guy who wants to become emperor. Then Titus is fully satisfied to yield the emperorship to this other guy, who changes his mind about marryi...more
Lyn
Pulp fiction for the 1600s, Quentin Tarantino in lace collar and puffy pants.

If anyone thinks that Shakespeare is dry and timid, flowery and antiquated, they need to see this, but beware: this is a bloody mess.

One critic, complaining that it was such a caricature that only Mel Brooks should direct, may be close, but I would have Tarantino direct. Another critic wrote that this was the ultimate revenge story and I agree with that as well.

Is it too brutal, too graphically violent for the stage?...more
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr...more
More about William Shakespeare...
Romeo and Juliet Hamlet Macbeth A Midsummer Night's Dream Othello

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“Demetrius: Villain, what hast thou done?
Aaron: That which thou canst not undo.
Chiron: Thou hast undone our mother.
Aaron: Villain, I have done thy mother.”
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“LUCIUS. Art thou not sorry for these heinous deeds?

AARON. Ay, that I had not done a thousand more.
Even now I curse the day- and yet, I think,
Few come within the compass of my curse-
Wherein I did not some notorious ill;
As kill a man, or else devise his death;
Ravish a maid, or plot the way to do it;
Accuse some innocent, and forswear myself;
Set deadly enmity between two friends;
Make poor men's cattle break their necks;
Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night,
And bid the owners quench them with their tears.
Oft have I digg'd up dead men from their graves,
And set them upright at their dear friends' door
Even when their sorrows almost was forgot,
And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,
Have with my knife carved in Roman letters
'Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.'
Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly;
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
But that I cannot do ten thousand more.”
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