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Titus Andronicus Sex Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Riverside edition.

Quote #7

Stay, madam; here is more belongs to her;
First thrash the corn, then after burn the straw:
This minion stood upon her chastity,
Upon her nuptial vow, her loyalty,
And with that painted hope braves your mightiness:
And shall she carry this unto her grave?
An if she do, I would I were an eunuch.
Drag hence her husband to some secret hole,
And make his dead trunk pillow to our lust. (2.3.2)

Demetrius and Chiron insist that after they rape Lavinia, she will no longer be able to stand "upon her chastity," which is what her reputation in Rome is built upon. (Note: for Shakespeare, "chastity" isn't limited to virginity. A married woman is considered chaste so long as she's faithful to her husband.) Yet, the play doesn't condone the idea that rape victims are stripped of their virtue. Keep reading...

Quote #8

Ah, now thou turn'st away thy face for shame!
And, notwithstanding all this loss of blood,
As from a conduit with three issuing spouts,
Yet do thy cheeks look red as Titan's face
Blushing to be encountered with a cloud. (2.3.1)

Despite the fact that Lavinia is bleeding profusely, Marcus claims that her face blushes when he brings up the subject of rape. Blushing is commonly associated with sexual innocence and chastity, especially in Shakespeare. (See, for example, Act 1, Scene 4 of Measure for Measure, where Lucio says he knows Isabella is a virgin because she blushes around men.)

The point of Lavinia's miraculous ability to blush here is that she is the innocent victim of rape. She is still virtuous, regardless of how vile her attackers are. So even though it seems pretty impossible and ridiculous for Lavinia to blush after losing so much blood during the assault (her hands and tongue have been cut off, after all), Shakespeare's notion that rape victims are faultless seems pretty progressive.

Quote #9

I may be pluck'd into the swallowing womb
Of this deep pit (2.3.6)

The description of the pit where Bassianus's dead body is dumped is described as a "swallowing womb" with "ragged entrails" covered in "maiden blood." Given that Lavinia has just been raped and mutilated, this sounds like a horrific and very physical metaphor for the violence that has been done to her body. Although the sexual assault occurs off-stage, the vividness of these verbal descriptions of the blood-stained pit act as a kind of stand-in for the physical act. Check out what we have to say in "Symbolism" if you want to consider the implications of all this.

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