By: William Shakespeare
An embittered Roman General returns from war, having captured the Queen of the Goths and her three sons. Sacrificing the eldest, in memory of his own sons killed in battle, he provokes the queen’s unending hatred.
I had heard of this play for some time now; many likened it to an action film, a slasher flick, and Quentin Tarantino’s movies. I suppose I had put off reading it precisely because of what everyone has been saying about this play (hype?), not to mention I figured I had to be in a particular mood to read it. But I did want to read it to know what it is everyone was talking about, to get the references I’ve been seeing online, and of course there’s the Globe production last year (starring William Houston! Indira Varma!)
This makes my second Roman play by Shakespeare that I’ve read, but I think I can safely say that one of my favourite parts about his plays set in Rome are the speeches. The opening scene with Saturninus and Bassianus making speeches to the citizens was fantastic, it really makes you feel like you’re there, you’re one of the spectators. It’s brilliant. It’s a pretty easy play to slip into reading-wise and follow. Having said that,
Like seriously, the first scene alone was pretty intense and you know things aren’t going to end well. Titus is quite the character, he does some really horrible things in the first scene alone and has quite the temper, but with everything that happens to him and his family afterwards (*sobs*Lavinia*sobs*), I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him afterwards and was rooting for him to get back at Tamora, Saturninus, etc. I was rather impressed at how Titus as quite the family unit, with his brother Marcus there, Lavinia, and his multitude of sons (seriously, that’s a total of how many sons? I don’t remember if they mentioned at the beginning how many he lost during the war against the Goths).
The way in which the play unfolds really had me glued to my eReader. If the first Act was already harrowing, things really hit the roof in Act II. You may have seen my update on GoodReads where I couldn’t decide whether to scream or weep alternately. Poor, poor Lavinia, I knew something bad had happened to her but to read what happens…and then the reaction from her remaining family members 🙁 But then Titus’ revenge on Tamora, Saturninus, and Tamora’s sons was like DDD= You know in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire with the Frey pies? Yeah, Shakespeare did it first (it just occurred to me as I was reading the final Act).
While the story unfolded at quite a reasonable pace (tense and escalating quickly), I had two quibbles with it: 1) the final scene in Act V moved far too quickly. It was like, tension, tension, tension, then bam! (or more like, stab! stab! stab!) I thought Titus would relish on his revenge a bit longer, but I guess productions tinker around with this. And 2) Aaron seemed rather one-dimensional, didn’t he? He just wanted to do evil things for the sake of it. Though I have to admit he had the best line in the play:
CHIRON: Thou hast undone our mother.
AARON: Villain, I have done thy mother.
lmao! I guess as the most villainous of villains, you might as well have a really good burn 😛
To be honest I was having a difficult time deciding how to rate this play: a 4 or a 5? Keeping me at the edge of my seat and flowing quite nicely to the fact that the pacing went really wonky at the end and some of the characters were a bit one-dimensional? Nonetheless I’m glad to have finally read Titus Andronicus and why a lot of people refer to this play. This play is not for the faint-hearted but it’s definitely worth checking out at some point if you’re interested in reading dramatic plays.