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An Interpretation Of Titus Andronicus, Act Iii, Scene 1.

3422 words - 14 pages

A close reading ofTITUS ANDRONICUSAct 3 Scene1 Lines 1-22Study Questions:How is this scene a pivotal moment in the play?What persona does Titus shed?What persona does Titus become?Why does Titus cry for these two sons sentenced to death?Why has Titus not cried for the other 22 sons killed on battle?Titus Andronicus is a study of the conflict between personal desire and duty to the state. Shakespeare establishes the character of Titus early in the play. He is a loyal subject of Rome, a commander of Roman legions, a career soldier who devoted his life to defending and expanding the Roman Empire and is about to retire. Titus serves the state with all his mind and strength, even to the point of neglecting his duty to his family as a father and patriarch. Throughout the play, from the triumph parade in act 1 scene 1 to the execution of his sons in act 3 scene 1, Titus maintains blind devotion and steadfast loyalty to Rome.Act 3 Scene1 is a pivotal scene in the play; it is the moment when Titus goes through changes in heart and mind. In this scene Titus suffers through the agony of all his losses from the revenge acts of Tamora, and the corruption of Rome. In this scene Titus changes from subject to freeman, proud general to grieving father, giving his first priority to Rome to giving his first priority to family, and from a mind full of hopeless despair to a mind full of hope for revenge.This close reading and interpretation will examine the scene concept by concept rather than line by line. The scene opens with Titus pleading for the lives of his sons who have been unjustly sentenced to death for a murder they did not commit. Taken from the playbook, the following is the stage setting and the first five lines from act 3 scene 1:The Scene opens on a street in Rome. Enter the Judges and Senators with Titus' two sons bound, passing on the stage to the place of execution, and Titus going before, pleading.Hear me, grave fathers! Noble tribunes, stay!For pity of mine age, whose youth was spentIn dangerous wars, whilst you securely slept;For all my blood in Rome's great quarrel shed;For all the frosty nights that I have watch'd;In these first 5 lines Titus is pleading with the powerful leaders of Rome to stay the execution of his two sons as a reward for his service to Rome. He believes the judges should exchange his past service (his youth spent in wars, blood shed in quarrels, and standing watch on thousands of cold nights), his good deeds done for the state, for the perceived evil deeds of his sons. It is as if he wants the judges to see his years of service as an accumulation of credits from which he now wants to make a withdrawal in order to pay for the lives of his sons.Under the rule of Emperor Saturninus, Rome falls into the hands of a selfish and decadent elite who no longer value the services rendered by Titus. The ruling body's only goals are power, wealth and pleasure, they do not value virtues like justice, mercy and honor. The Senators and...

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