Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Compare Roman and Goth barbarity in Titus. Which culture - the "civilized" Roman or the "barbarian" Gothic - is truly more barbarous? How is this barbarism expressed?

  2. 2

    Analyze the way different characters in the play interact with their children. How does Tamora treat her sons? Concentrate especially on her plea in Act One, scene one and her interaction with her sons in Act Two, scene three. How does Titus treat his offspring? How about Aaron? What do these comparisons say about a broader theory of child-rearing that might be present in Titus?

  3. 3

    Examine the instances in the play when sons clash with one another on the basis of their birth order, concentrating especially on Bassianus and Saturninus' debate in Act One, scene one and Chiron and Demetrius' in Act Two, scene one.

  4. 4

    Compare Tamora and Lavinia in terms of their agency as women. What differences and similarities can you uncover? Does their cultural affiliation (Tamora is Gothic and Lavinia is Roman) influence the amount of personal agency each woman possesses?

  5. 5

    How does the language of Titus fit into the thematic scheme of the play? Note especially the frequency of endstopped lines, the obsessive use of certain words such as "hand" and "tongue", and the prevalence of puns throughout the play.

  6. 6

    Is Titus a funny play? If so, what are some instances of its humor? What role does humor play in the work as a whole?

  7. 7

    Consider Titus' madness. Is this madness the result of sadness, or is there a more specific mechanism that brings it about? Is Titus' madness feigned or truthful - or both or neither? How do other characters in the play respond to his madness?

  8. 8

    What does Lavinia represent within the context of Titus? How is the personal violence done to her political as well? Consider also the Andronici response to her mutilation. Is their response appropriate or not? Does their response speak to their own political status in the play?

  9. 9

    Who is Aaron? Is he a purely evil character, or is his status more complicated? Can you point to any motivating factors that might explain his actions and language? Consider also his treatment of his son. Is it merely selfish, or does it demonstrate some measure of tenderness? On the whole, is Aaron a sympathetic figure?

  10. 10

    Discuss the way in which Titus depends on its visual impact. Consider the violence in the play in this light. What is the difference between reading Titus and seeing it? In answering this question also examine a stage or movie version of the play, such as Julie Taymor's film.