Aaron The Moor, A Sympathetic Villain

1197 words - 5 pages

"Titus Andronicus" by William Shakespeare, is a play full of murders, miseries and heinous deeds, whose "chief architect" (Shakespeare 5.3.121) for the most part, if not all, was Aaron the Moor. The audience of the play would be so quick to rule Aaron as a purely evil character, the most evil of all the other characters. However, a deeper analysis of Aaron shows that despite his villainy, he still has a human side which he shows towards his son, and that his dark skin has made him a victim of racism, which might have influenced his character, and developed his evil nature that he enjoys. Aaron's status is more complicated than just purely evil, and on the whole, he can be a sympathetic character.

In the play "Titus Andronicus", the theme of parents and children is clearly visible, and the audience get to see a humanitarian side of the presumably purely evil Aaron, that he shows towards his son. Unlike the hero of the play, Titus, who does not hesitate to "slay his son in a wrongful quarrel"(Shakespeare 1.1.294) and disown him:"Nor thou, nor he, are any sons of mine; my son's would never so dishonour me"(Shakespeare 1.1.295-296), Aaron refuses that his son be killed, and makes it clear that he "shall not die"(Shakespeare 4.2.81) and that he who touches his son "will die upon his scimitar's sharp point"(Shakespeare 4.2.91-92).Some might argue that Aaron's actions towards his son are simply egotistical ,and that he sees
the boy as a means of perpetuating his own evil influences on Rome; nonetheless, a noble and sympathetic Aaron is shown when he speaks to his son, vowing to protect him and raise him into someone important no matter what, in a way similar to the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus; where he says:
"Come on, you thick-lipped slave,I'll bear you hence;
For it is you that puts us to our shifts.
I'll make you feed on berries and on roots,
And feed on curds and whey, and suck the goat,
And cabin in a cave, and bring you up
To be a warrior, and command a camp."(Shakespeare 4.2.175-180)
Moreover, when Aaron is captured near the end of the play, he agrees to reveal to Lucius everything he plotted and committed, on the condition that Lucius "swears that Aaron's child shall live"(Shakespeare 5.1.68) or else everything will be "buried with Aaron's death"(Shakespeare 5.1.67). And thus, the notion of raising the boy to perpetuate his evil on Rome can be disregarded since Aaron is going to die and is not the one that will raise the child and preach to him his values of evil and villainy. And so we see that Aaron can be a sympathetic character, and there is more complexity to him than just purely evil.

In addition to having a humanitarian side, Aaron is clearly a victim of racism, another theme that is strongly evident in the play. He is segregated from the other characters of the play by his dark skin, and simply referred to as "the Moor". Black people were considered as outcasts by both the Goths and the Romans; "Joyless, dismal, black, and...

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