An Interpretation of Titus Andronicus, Act III, Scene 1.

Essay by MajorAveatorUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, February 2004

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A close reading of


Act 3 Scene1 Lines 1-22

Study 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...