skein's Reviews > Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
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's review
Nov 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 4-star

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 thee gone ...
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 kill'd him.

And then in the next scene, Titus kills two young men, their mother, and his own daughter - he probably would have gone on murdering but he's killed himself before he gets the chance - so is this "alas the poor murdered fly" bit sarcasm? insanity, real or feigned? neither? both? DOES IT MATTER?

The Tamor film is my favorite (aside from the play itself); the actors are marvelously unaware of their IMPENDING DOOOOM (with the exception of Anthony Hopkins who always looks like he's near death, in a spiritual sense) - and the lush texture of scenery and costuming and decadence heightens heightens heightens.

The best bit, cinematic-ally speaking, is the little petty cruelty of Lavinia and Bassianus, who - lest you should think they are good people! - mock Tamora in her adulterous ways. Since Tamora's marriage was forced and Lavinia herself was almost forcibly married to the same man, one would expect her to have some sympathy for the poor exiled Queen. HOWEVER. NO.

Under your patience, gentle empress,
'Tis thought you have a goodly gift in horning ...
Jove shield your husband from his hounds to-day!
'Tis pity they should take him for a stag.

-- and are roundly punished for it. Bassianus is murdered and Lavinia left to scream and beg and plea -- not for life, "for poor I was slain when Bassianus died" - but that Tamora kill her at once. THIS IS NOT TO BE. As Demetrius puts it (so chillingly)

"First thrash the corn, then after burn the straw."

No one in this play is getting out alive.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Miriam We'll never get out of this world alive.

skein Miriam wrote: "We'll never get out of this world alive."
Damn true.

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