RQ: Titus, Act 2-3 (Trigger Warning)
Please note that Titus Andronicus Act 2 stages sexual violence. How does Shakespeare’s adaptation of Ovid and the response the it illicit in audiences compare to complaints made by students in Literature & Humanities courses Columbia. One student wrote, “the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text.” I aim to read the text within an ecocritical or ecofeminist tradition that argues objectification and violence sexual assault is always a part of what Jeffrey Cohen calls “resourcism.” Also, why does Shakespeare ask audiences to witness such spectacular violence?
How do these movie and stage production posters figure the violence at the heart of this play?
In Wells’ note to Aaron’s entrance at 2.1, he explains, “In F he is directed to enter alone after an inappropriate ‘fourish,’ transferred from the preceding stage directions in Q1, where it accompanies the Emperor’s departure” (n.2.1.1 p.106). What if the direction is not a mistake? Or, how should we read Aaron as a king?
What sorts of metaphors does Aaron use to describe Tamora and his rise to power? Do the metaphors remind you of others we have seen so far this semester? What are Aaron’s plans?
What motivates the conjunction of martial and sexual violence in 2.1 and throughout the play? Do Chiron and Demitrius threaten Lavinia’s chastity because they are Goths, outsiders? Or, is there something inside Rome that motivates their violence?
Though the rape of Lavinia inherits the stories of Lucretia from Virgil and Philomela from Ovid, why does Shakespeare’s version of the story happen outside? Why is the forest, “Fitted by kind for rape and villainy” (2.1.117) according to Aaron?
So far this semester we have seen several instances of characters traveling from courts into “nature.” How does the the “into the woods” sequence in Titus compare to The Tempest or King Lear?
Compare Tamora’s two descriptions of the forest (2.3.10-30) to her other description of the forest (2.3.101-110). What accounts for the change?
What’s Aaron’s plan?
What sorts of appeals does Lavinia make to Tamora? Why does Tamora refuse to relent?
What metaphorical work does the pit in act 2 perform?
Why do Chiron and Demetrius mutilate Lavinia?
How does Marcus respond to Lavina’s deformity (2.4.1-55). Does Marcus ease her suffering? Does he ease the audiences’ suffering?
Why does Shakespeare ask audiences to witness such spectacular violence? Why bring it out in the open?