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Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus

Language and Communication Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

Grandsire, 'tis Ovid's Metamorphoses,
my mother gave it me. (4.1.4)

As we know, although Lavinia's family suspected that she was a victim of rape, they couldn't really know for sure because her tongue and hands were cut off by her attackers. In this scene, Lavinia gestures at the story of Philomel's rape in Book 6 of Ovid's Metamorphoses to confirm that she, like Philomel, was sexually assaulted. Critics like Marjorie Garber see Young Lucius's books (and classical literature in general) as the key element that enables a kind of "rebirth" for Lavinia, who was "reduced to a state of an 'infant' by her attackers" (Shakespeare after All, 81).

Quote #8

she takes the staff in her mouth, and guides it with her stumps, and writes. (Stage Direction, Act 4, Scene 1).

Although this is a pivotal moment for Lavinia, who reveals the names of her rapists by writing their names in the sand, there's also something disturbing about the sight of her on the ground with a large stick in her mouth. Critic Alexander Leggatt argues that "the sight of Marcus's staff in her mouth, reenacts the original atrocity" (Titus Andronicus: A Modern Perspective). Yet, for other literary critics, this moment of revelation is meaningful in other ways. Keep reading ...

Quote #9

O, do ye read, my lord, what she hath writ?
'Stuprum. Chiron. Demetrius.' (4.1.8)

Using her nephew's copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses to indicate that she was raped like Philomel, Lavinia is finally able to reveal the names of her attackers by placing a staff in her mouth and writing their names in the sand. Why's this so important? Marjorie Garber argues that "reading and then writing are the keys to a recovered humanity as well as the steps toward further revenge" (Shakespeare after All, 81).

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