Titus Andronicus Theme of Revenge
Titus Andronicus is considered a "revenge tragedy," a genre that was made popular in the 16th century by Thomas Kyd (Spanish Tragedy) and John Webster (White Devil). As such, it features a seemingly endless cycle of bloody vengeance that nearly destroys Rome and takes down the city's most important political figures. While the play seems to take grisly pleasure in its over-the-top acts of vengeance, it also suggests that revenge reduces everyone to the status of wild animals. (For more on Titus Andronicus as a revenge tragedy, see "Genre.")
Questions About Revenge
- Explain why Tamora wants revenge against Titus. Why does she go after the man's family?
- How does Titus trick Tamora into eating her own children? Why is that Titus's chosen form of revenge?
- What, if anything, motivates Aaron to destroy the Andronicus family?
- Do you think Titus Andronicus is meant to be a serious revenge tragedy, or do you think it makes fun of the genre? (Psst. Go to our discussion of "Genre" if you need a definition of revenge tragedy.)
Chew on This
Vengeance turns human beings into predatory animals in Titus Andronicus.
Shakespeare is mocking the genre of the revenge tragedy in this play.