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Titus Andronicus: An Anachronistic Obsession Over First Born Sons

1511 words - 7 pages

Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus demonstrates how aggressive challenges and divisions are born out of conflicting belief systems. For example, because the Roman citizens, the Goths, and Aaron the Moor all differ in matters of consciousness, tension ensues. Nicholas Moschovakis comments extensively about these clashes in his essay ““Irreligious Piety” and Christian History: Persecution as Pagan Anachronism in Titus Andronicus,” and Moschovakis not only magnifies persecution, but he remarks extensively about the major elements in Titus Andronicus that can be understood as anachronistic. While Moschovakis carefully and thoroughly observes the Shakespearean realms of violent “human sacrifice,” the “relevance of Judeo-Christian sacrificial discourses,” the anti-papist Elizabethan attitudes, and other religious and pagan traditions, Moschovakis plainly admits that “Titus evades all attempts to be read as partisan invective” (Moschovakis 462). Because Shakespeare included a wide range of conflict and overlapping belief systems, assertions tend to become, as Moschovakis puts it, “curiously inconsistent” and “overshadowed” (Moschovakis 462). What can be claimed as transparent in Titus Andronicus, and what I think is appealing to the masses, is that Shakespeare drew upon the major controversial motifs in human history and religion, and he included the evils of hypocrisy which allow for realistic interest regardless of what your religious or political stance is. Moreover, I would argue that Shakespeare exposes a more obvious anachronistic element that can serve in expanding Moschovakis’ arguments. Titus Andronicus demonstrates the time honored obsession over first born sons, and because the play includes a first born son in each family that is introduced, I think the claim deserves consideration. The pedestal and heir ship afforded to a first born male is a common thread which all societies, religious, pagan, or simply pious have in common.
First, the contention that there is a partiality for first born sons is truly relevant because the fixation on sons was created by God. The Old Testament father and son relationship between Abraham and Isaac is relevant in Titus Andronicus because Shakespeare includes sacrificial parallels in the play. Additionally, although God fashioned Adam, God was compelled to invoke one true son, Jesus Christ, in order that Jesus co-reign. The significance of Jesus is that God requires a son who is like himself. For example, although Adam was fashioned by God, he was not made up of the same fiber as Christ the King. In Titus Andronicus, each parent, like God, has hopes and expectations with regard to their offspring, and each of the parents has a first born son who is the center of attention.
Adding to the consequence of first born sons in Titus Andronicus is the fact that the play opens with Caesar’s eldest son, Saturninus. Saturninus is asserting his right to rule Rome. He exclaims, “Plead my successive title with...

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