Women In Titus Andronics

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade November 2001

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It is known that throughout history, women had almost no rights in virtually every culture and society. Women were treated more as property than as people. They had no say, no rights, and no freedom. Personal property was given more value than women. In fact, that is how women were treated, as personal property. Titus Andronicus is a Shakespearean work where the negative treatment of women is clearly seen.

We see the first example in Tamora. Titus is away at war for ten years and returns with only four out of his twenty-five sons. Before returning home, they captured Tamora, Queen of the Goths, her three sons, and Aaron the Moor. To abide by Roman rituals, Titus sacrificed Tamora's oldest son for the death of his own.

In that portion of the play, Titus and his army had already defeated the Goths, but to add insult to injury, he captures someone who most likely was not even physically involved, their queen.

I believe that Tamora was Titus' trophy. He wanted to bring something tangible home to show his conquest and his greatness. The Queen of the Goths proved to be the best trophy for Titus to bring home and show to his people.

Tamora is then shown no sympathy at all by Titus. She is already being held captive and Titus shows total disregard for her by sacrificing one of her sons. Because of Titus' actions, Tamora holds a never-ending hatred for Titus. Throughout the story, she schemes against Titus. She frames two of Titus' sons, who are later beheaded, and she has her two sons rape Titus' daughter Lavinia. At the end of the story, Titus tricks Tamora, kills her two sons, makes a pie out of them, and feeds the pie to her. Titus then ends by killing Tamora and his own daughter Lavinia.

No sympathy is given at all to women. Tamora and her sons are treated like animals. First, one of her sons are taken as a sacrifice and then she is tricked into eating her other two. As stated earlier, this adds insult to injury by continuing to gravely disrespect Tamora and her family after they have already been defeated and captured.

My second example is with Lavinia. After the war, Lavinia is chosen by the new emperor to be his bride. Titus reluctantly agrees, feeling that gifts of chariots or prisoners would have made better gifts. Throughout the play Lavinia has almost no say. She has very few lines and is not able to contest Saturninus for choosing her as his new wife. She also killed in the end by her own father.

These examples from Lavinia only perpetuate the female status in history. They were given no rights and were clearly treated as property. Her own father gave Lavinia to Saturninus as a gift. In today's society, we would view a gift as an object, not a human being. The last thing that I want to point out is how Titus killed her in the end. He kills his own daughter whereas he makes sacrifices for his sons. His sons have a significantly greater importance to him than his daughter.

These beliefs are sadly still seen today. In China, boys are given preference over girls. It is a society that views daughters as something negative. In the Middle East, as it is widely shown on TV today, women are treated as property. They are required to wear veils in certain countries and their bodies must be completely covered. Women are considered to be dirty and sometimes are believed to be restricted from heaven. Men have multiple wives, women who were most likely forced into marriage.