ENG100H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Primogeniture, Lightdark, Blackboard
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Titus Andronicus – Lecture 3
Romans v. Goths: setting
Rome& England: parallels and
Succession Crisis: Titus & Queen
Space & Structure: theatrical
resources, structuring doubles
Revenge: the generic context
Passionate Grief: expressive
Reading and Rape: 2 actions
interconnected and central to the
Mouths: that speak, that abuse,
that are abused, that devour
Language of light/dark: metaphors
and tropes of “racial”thinking
Check blackboard for a reading for next class
Titus Andronicus establish Shakespeare's reputation in
the early Modern Age
Many tried to separate this from other Shakespeare's
Filled with blood and horror.
Alot of pple couldn't believe that this was one of
England had been part of roman empire.
England understood its history as deeply died to roman
(Titus Andronicus is set in the 14th century)Height of the
Roman empire but just before it's fall
Historically, Rome was overrun by Goths & Vandalls,
Northern European Germanic peoples.
➢English have 2 diff stories of their origin
➢On the one hand they'[re the pple of Brutus who left Rome
and go North into Britain. On the other hand they are the pple
of Geramic Goths. 2 competing origin stories. The point here
is that Rome is a mirror to England and a kind of
forewarning. When English watch this play, they thing of
their own history.
➢The forewarning idea has to do with the “succession crisis of
Queen Elizabeth” It's an issue of who will become the next
emperor of Rome which opens the play. The people of
England care about this. In 1590s, Queen Elizabeth is on the
throne. In the 1590s, she's in her 50s and is still single, &
unable to bear a child. So people are thinking “who's next,
who will succeed her if she has no children?” Henry the 8th is
Elizabeth's father and he shifts the religious head in England.
Henry breaks with the Roman Catholic church. Due to
Henry 8th pple shift from being catholic to officially declaring
themselves as Protestants. This is a bloody revolution all
➢Martin Luther was a critic of the Catholic church. He
criticised the church for raising funds, to get your ancestors
into heaven. Martin Luther advocates for Protestantism.
Henry the 8th wants a divorce from Catherine of Aragon.
Divorce is not sanctioned in Catholic church, His move to
protestantism is ideological and political all at once.
➢Bloodshed of Henry the 8th is followed by his son being too
young to succeed. His other daughter Mary is trying to move
towards Catholicism again.
➢Queen Elizabeth is a Protestant, unlike her sister Mary.
➢Elizabeth's policy was to just show up to the Protestant
➢church on sundays and then go home. She wasn't interested
in figuring out or hunting down Protestants or etc.
➢Act 1 – Titus Andronicus – Characters & Summary
➢*Primogeniture - Means 1st born gets the throne.
uses this to make his arguement; saying that he is noble
and has the right to the throne.
“Noble patricians, patrons of my right...”
In contrast to Saturninus, Bassianus wants the people to
choose and elect him. He's using a democracy approach.
“But let the desert in pure election shine-fight for
freedom in your choice.”
speaks greatly of Titus making it seem like he's this ethic
hero and therefore perfect candidate to lead Rome.
But Titus doesn't want to lead because of his age.
The barbaric Queen of Goths speaks a language of mercy.
It is her status as Queen to look Titus in the eye and speak
to him. She's using all this Roman language to appeal to
this Roman who then goes about with the ritual killing.
Tamora pleads for mercy and Titus responds with a logic
of eye for an eye.
➢Who then are the barbarians?
Conventionally, barbarians are those beyond the city
Barbarians are those who don't speak your language
Lucius demands a human sacrifice. Even Roman cultures
believe in animal sacrifice. In Lucius's demand for a
human sacrifice, it immediately sets the stage for a
The Act opens with Titus killing Tamora's son and
concludes with him taking the life of his own son.
Cruel parallelism – the breakdown of barabarianism.
➢Space & Structure
How the architecture of the Early modern stage help to
tell the story?
Gallery: Upper Stage
➢Revenge: the generic
Stage Directions: enter the tribunes & senators aloft...
•So the characters enter from different directions
•Saturninus and Bassianus enter from opposite
ends of the stage so it tells you that they're in
contrast (or different)
•Revenge is also a theme but will also become a
character in this play
•The 3rd low level (cellar) gets activated which
indicates the underworld.
•This is the pit where Mutius is buried, this is
the pit where they speak of the rape, etc (all
the bad things happen in this pit on stage)
•So the stage structures meaning; the structure
tells the story.
Act 2 Scene 3
1.1 96-126 Conditions for revenge begin Lucius, Titus,
1.2 1.1 238 – 242.........
What happens to our understanding of the play if we were to
read Tamora & Lavinia as key contrasts in the play>
Where does the contrast break down?
Jan 13 – Lecture 4
➢This play is set in the 4th century in Rome!
➢What is revenge tragedy?
An old form of drama that was made popular my
Thomas Kidd' spain tragedy. A character who has been
wronged usually by murder or rape of someone in his
family. So made popular by Thomas Kidd and
reinvigorated by Titus Andronicus
➢Revenge, Violence, the State (Context)
Common Elizabethan response to treason – execution
involving removing genitals, bowels, head.
This revenge of the state for a crime of treason takes us
close to the world of Andronicus.
This is a highly theatrical event.
In Titus, he turns to revenge, when law fails him.
A theatrical spectacle of dismembering bodies.