In Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare examines stereotypical gender roles. In the play's opening scene, both female lead characters are treated like property to be exchanged and traded between men, who are valued for their military service and political commitment to Rome. At the same time, the play uses the virtuous Lavinia and the sensual Tamora to create a classic good woman / bad woman dichotomy to explore female sexuality and power.
Questions About Gender
- Discuss how Lavinia is portrayed in the play. How does she compare to Tamora?
- Why does Bassianus run off with Lavinia after she gets engaged to Saturninus?
- Explain what motivates Demetrius and Chiron's attack on Lavinia.
- Is there any symbolic meaning in Lavinia's silence?
- Why does Titus kill Lavinia? Does he do it for Lavinia's sake or for his own?
Chew on This
Throughout the play, Lavinia is treated like an object rather than a human being.
Lavinia's humanity is recovered when she is able to communicate the names of her attackers.