Motifs In Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus

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History Repeats Itself, First As A Tragedy, Second As A Farce
Titus Andronicus is believed to be Shakespeare’s first tragedy, and has often been regarded as one of his worst plays. However, by reading this play one can grasp the motifs behind certain important characters that Shakespeare would later write about, making the play an important and influential work despite how one feels about it. If the play is looked at through a Marxist scope, it can be seen that these motifs drew from authentic qualities from the state of affairs in Shakespeare’s own life. Some of these motifs include men in power going mad, seen first in Titus Andronicus himself, though subsequently seen in characters such as King Lear and Hamlet. It is likely that this quality
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Instead of trying to undermine racism here, Shakespeare is encouraging it. Aaron is an incredibly evil character, with very little moral values, so much so that “if one good deed in all my life I did, I do repent it from my very soul”(Act V, Scene III, Lines 191-192). He is a powerful character, which is what allows him to be able to carry out such awful deeds. He makes love to Tamora while she is married to the Emperor, carries out any evil acts Tamora want him to do, and frames Quintus and Martius; all things he would not have been able to do as a someone with less power. This promotes the idea that other races should not be allowed to have so much power. Many of the things he does are things that no rational human would think of doing, and this trait can be seen in later Shakespearian tragedies, such as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. Shylock is Jewish and ends up being a barbarous character who should not be trusted, showing that Shakespeare’s racism is not only attributed to Moors, but across the races. However, using Marxist criticism, it can be seen that these types of racist thoughts were not so uncommon in sixteenth century England. They were actually the common thought, especially as the slave trade was starting to really pick up at that time. Moors especially were discriminated against, which is clearly seen in Titus Andronicus as well as in Othello, where Othello is constantly struggling against racism. It is important to note that around the time Titus Andronicus was written, the disdain for Moors was so great that Queen Elizabeth I issued a ban on them. Shakespeare undoubtedly wanted his plays to go over well with audiences, and the best way to do this is to support their sentiments. Making a character that audiences would stereotype and agree with that ethnicity being savage is a great way to do that. Therefore, the mindset that other
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