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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

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 seeming...

Violence

Critic S. Mark Hulse figures that Titus Andronicus "has 14 killings, 9 of them on stage, 6 severed members, 1 rape (or 2 or 3 depending on how you count), 1 live burial, 1 case of insanity, and 1 o...

Language and Communication

Language and writing are a big deal in Titus Andronicus, especially where women's voices are concerned. When Lavinia's tongue and hands are cut off after a brutal sexual assault, she is completely...

Power

The play begins with the theme of dynastic succession, as two brothers prepare to battle for the Roman empery. For many, the theme of power is what prevents Titus Andronicus from being simply a gr...

Family

Vengeance is a strange family affair in Titus Andronicus. When Tamora wants to get back at Titus for sacrificing her eldest son, she goes after the man's children. Titus's response is to trick Ta...

Race

At first glance Titus Andronicus presents the "civilized" Romans and "barbarous" Goths as racial opposites, but this is quickly overturned when the play blurs the differences between the two groups...

Gender

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...

Sex

Titus Andronicus portrays a horrific view of sexuality that suggests there's an inherent ugliness in desire. Demetrius and Chiron view the act of rape as a speedier, more convenient alternative to...
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