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Essay On Authority In Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus

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1. The Renaissance recognized that authority had a dual nature: auctoritas, which represents power as the source and giver of bounty, and potestas, which represents power as rule by sheer force and tyranny. All of the plays we have dealt with this semester have been concerned, either implicitly or explicitly, with this dualism. Look at the plays we have studied this semester and discuss how authority is portrayed in the plays. What kind of people are authority figures? How do they handle (or mishandle) their authority? How do people benefit or suffer as the result of their authority? Most importantly, (and this should be your thesis) what does Shakespeare’s opinion of authority seem to be? What would be his ideal ruler? In Titus Andronicus, the authority figure illustrates less auctoritas and more potestas, in effect, mishandling his authority. On the one hand, following Tamora’s advice, Saturninus reluctantly pardons Bassianus and the Andronici family. The act shows him as a considerate leader. On the other hand, he uses tyranny when he allows the arrests of Martius and Quintus, and sentences them to death. His actions suggest that he finds Titus and sons a threat as he has not even conducted an investigation and easily believes a forged letter. Saturninus mishandles authority by leading according to his fears and insecurities instead of promoting…show more content…
Antony rebels against Octavius for what he thinks is his unfairness. His actions did not end with a victory, however. Cleopatra indicates rebellion too when Octavius already asks her to surrender; instead, she chooses free will plus independence and commits suicide. Furthermore, Antony fights social norms. He should be fighting but when Cleopatra flees, he follows her instead. His love for her trumps expectations from a soldier and a leader like Antony. Like Antony, Cleopatra overlooks her duties to her people and decides out of
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