Cannibalism In Titus Andronicus

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Thirty-four corpses, fourteen murders, three severed hands, one rape, and one cut tongue – indeed, Shakespearian Titus Andronicus is a bloody play. To the present-day audience the sanguinary displays of violence and revenge are no more shocking than modern movies and television. However, modern audiences are often disturbed and terrified by the act of consuming human flesh in Titus in ways that a 16th-century audience might not have even noticed. Louise Noble claims in her essay “And Make Two Pasties of Your Shameful Heads: Medicinal Cannibalism and Healing the Body Politic in Titus Andronicus” that cannibalism was not such an awful performance for our ancestors. Moreover, Noble demonstrates the connection between the sacral Holy Communion…show more content…
Titus bakes Tamora’s sons for Lavinia, Lavinia was being raped for the sacrificed murder of Alarbus, Alarbus was killed by Titus … what for? Because there are no obvious reasons for the Alarbus murder, Titus sacrifices it – he makes it a ritual, religious murder. According to Noble, by doing that Shakespeare combines his political views with the body discourses. In particular, by using a medical discourse, Shakespeare “lays open for interpretation the troubling paradoxes of his own culture”(701). It appears that Noble sees Titus as the play where Shakespeare expertly manipulated between the medical consumption of human flesh and barbaric cannibalize actions. Thus, this manipulation is an imminent consequence of the cultural behavior. Noble assures, that “the socially accepted medical consumption of human bodies and the foreign, objected, and forbidden act of eating human flesh are profoundly implicated in one another”(701). In this way, Louise Noble concludes that cannibalism itself can not exude as the boundary between civilized and barbarian cultures. Such a cliché, created by a massive amount of scholars remains to be just a cliché in a light of her new historical evidence. But why Louise Noble’s article is worth reading? Not only for the exceptional analysis of the evidence for medical cannibalism but also as the prove for Shakespearean authorship. Because many scholars are arguing against Shakesperian solid authorship in such a bloody play, Noble’s article uncovers the historical context for it. Titus Andronicus is just as sophisticated as, for example, King Lear. And the Shakespearian audience would know, understand, and like blood, murders, and cannibalism of the
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