The earliest reliable reference to Titus Andronicus comes from the Diary of the Elizabethan entrepreneur Philip Henslowe, proprietor of the Rose playhouse on Bankside. Amongst his works, only Venus and Adonis was entered earlier, on 18 April These are the only specific records we have of performances of Titus Andronicus in the public playhouses.
Even if the Stationers' Register entry should refer to the prose History, as Adams suggests, 6 there is no particular reason to suspect that the date of Q is wrong. Accordingly, we may accept January as a pretty reliable terminus ante quem for the composition of Titus Andronicus. The real problems arise when we seek a terminus post quem which is rather more exact than, let us say, Shakespeare's twelfth birthday.
The evidence for the former is reviewed below … ; evidence for the latter is slight and circumstantial. Since it was in Danter's commercial interest to present his Q edition as the authentic text of a playhouse success, we cannot be certain that the information printed on the title page is perfectly accurate. Nevertheless, it gives unique information about the play's history: The reference to Sussex's Men tends to confirm that Henslowe's entries in January and February of that year refer to Shakespeare's play as published in Q.
If the other companies really had performed the play, there is no guarantee that it was in the form that reached print. The Earl of Derby's Men were simply Lord Strange's under a new name, which they cannot have adopted before their patron succeeded to the title on 25 September ; however, the name used on the title page has more significance for the publication date of Q than for the alleged performances.
Danter would naturally use the patron's new and more impressive title, but there is no real evidence that the performances referred to were recent. On the other hand, the reference to the Earl of Pembroke's Men may push the history of the play, or some form of it, back a little. We have no record of this company before the autumn of , and the last we hear of them for several years is a vivid vignette of Elizabethan theatrical life.
The London playhouses were closed because of the plague, and the companies were dispersed, most of them touring in the provinces. On 28 September , Henslowe wrote to his son-in-law, Edward Alleyn: The fact that Derby's Men are named before Pembroke's may point to an even earlier performance, but speculation on this subject, while fascinating, is bound to be inconclusive: One character bids another welcome,. While this is not precisely what happens in Titus Andronicus, it is difficult to agree with those who have tried to explain it away in order to support a later date.
Violence is commonplace in Elizabethan drama, but these plays are linked by a bizarre and sensational type of violence in which dismemberment is unusually conspicuous: Lavinia's tongue is cut out, Hieronimo bites his off and apparently spits it onto the stage. Both tragedies have grand old heroes driven mad by suffering and oppression, and the Senecan rhetoric of their madness enjoyed such an enduring vogue that additional mad scenes were commissioned to exploit it. Similar tastes are reflected in some of Marlowe's earlier plays.
The cannibal imagery of the banquet scene in Tamburlaine the Great, Part 1 c. Marlowe even refers to Procne's revenge, a conspicuous theme in Shakespeare's play. Like Aaron, Barabas revels in evil: John Dover Wilson has demonstrated the resemblance.
Maxwell notes a close parallel between part of Aaron's defiant confession and a speech in The Troublesome Raigne of John King of England, published in but probably performed several years earlier:.
Apparently, then, Titus Andronicus has much in common with a type of play which was being written before If it was written much after that date, it was a belated specimen of the type. Passing from even such circumstantial evidence to internal evidence is like entering a carnival fun-house with its distorting mirrors.
In the light of that remark, it is surprising to find him playing it himself. Coincidences and common sources are both difficult to rule out, the latter especially when we recall how much Elizabethan literature we have lost. Even when a parallel is as clear as such things may be, we often cannot know which author wrote first, or how much time separated first writing from imitation.
Wilson uses this coincidence to argue that Peele not only wrote both passages, but did so at very nearly the same time, and that the play must be slightly the earlier of the two because he thinks the word is better suited to its context there than in the poem. Furthermore, since the play shows signs of revision, a parallel may belong to either a first draft or a revised version.
The same hazards attend any hope of using recent archaeology to date the stagecraft in Titus Andronicus.
Like a verbal parallel, however, this stage business could as easily date from a revision as from the original draft. The only real evidence for the date of the play, then, is external, but it is scanty and not beyond question: Henslowe might have been mistaken, perhaps Danter lied. With these caveats, we can say that Titus Andronicus was probably established on the stage by mid , and possibly earlier.
Circumstantial evidence suggests that it might have been first written several years before: In the end, we can only conjecture or despair. Thus, discarding all pretence of objective proof, I shall base a conjecture upon my subjective assessment of style. As I have shown, Titus Andronicus resembles several sensational plays which were all written somewhat earlier than Moreover, the writing seems stylistically uneven.
Some of it is Ovidian, formal and mannered, as in Marcus's speech to the ravished Lavinia 2. These passages feel like the work of a young poet. Other portions more closely resemble Shakespeare's mature style: The stagecraft, on the other hand, is as dexterous as anything Shakespeare ever accomplished, which suggests a working familiarity with the theatre.
From these observations I conjecture that the young Shakespeare wrote a crude draft of Titus Andronicus before he turned dramatist—even as early as , when he may still have been living in Stratford; that it accompanied him to London, where nobody would produce it; and that having established himself to Robert Greene's dissatisfaction in , 18 he revised it and offered it either to Strange's or Pembroke's Men.
They may have played it in the provinces. But by the summer of the latter company, being bankrupt and currently in possession of the play, sold it to Sussex's Men, who played it at the Rose in early , and subsequently sold the copy to Danter when plague closed the playhouses. The scene of Titus's mad banquet, which appears only in the First Folio, was added later.
This complicated hypothesis must await the discovery of new, reliable evidence to be tested. It may wait long. It is uncertain whether Shakespeare's major source for Titus Andronicus has survived. The context of the story is the decline of the Roman Empire, but the events are fictional: Shakespeare is unlikely to have invented the story; his only original plots are found in comedy: For tragedy and history plays, he and his fellow dramatists turned to historians such as Livy, Plutarch and Holinshed; to old plays like King Leir or The Troublesome Raigne of John King of England; or to the Italian novella, which the Titus story resembles.
Adams announced his discovery, in the Folger Shakespeare Library, of a volume containing a short prose History of Titus Andronicus and a line ballad, Titus Andronicus' Complaint. Nevertheless, some scholars believe they have found it in either the ballad or the History. Dicey, is known to have reprinted old works on other occasions. It is possible that Johnson merely reprinted a ballad that was old enough to be Shakespeare's source. No early edition of the History is known, but while spelling and punctuation follow eighteenth-century practice, the diction is archaic.
The ballad and the History are linked by an identical couplet, which Lavinia writes with her staff to identify her assailants:. John Shakespeare lived during a time when the middle class was expanding in both size and wealth, allowing…. William Shakespeare was born on April 26, William Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare, an alderman and a successful glover originally from Snitterfield, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer.
He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was the third child of eight and the eldest surviving son. For example, in The Comedy of Errors, water imagery is a very important tool to convey the theme of that play. In Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare again uses animal imagery to reinforce the the themes of the play. The plays in those categories have much in common,…. The age of Shakespeare was a great time in English history. The reign of Queen Elizabeth I saw England emerge as the leading naval and commercial power of the Western world.
European wars brought an influx of continental refugees into England, exposing the Englishman to new cultures. In trade, might, and art, England established…. In , a man was born by the name of William Shakespeare. He was born to a poor family, was given little education, and had no interaction with sophisticated society. Is there any way in which it is an original work that does more than parody? Discuss the treatment of women in Titus Andronicus. Is this a misogynistic play?
Is there any female character in the play three-dimensional enough for us to care about? Consider the use of animal imagery in the play. What sorts of images are most frequently used, and in relation to which characters and events?
What does this indicate to us about the relations between characters? What impression does it leave us of Saturninus's Rome?
Titus Andronicus study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a .
Sep 05, · Suggested Essay Topics. Evelyn Waugh said, "Titus is an arduous part. He is on stage almost continuously as heroic veteran, stoic parent, implacable devotee of barbarous pieties, crazy victim, adroit revenger.".
- The Real Hero of Titus Andronicus I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble -Augustus Caesar (63 BC - 14 AD) In his essay, Titus Andronicus and the . Titus Andronicus literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Titus Andronicus.
Titus Andronicus was the first tragedy written by Shakespeare in It is on of his most gruesome and ambitious plays. It has many recognizable motifs and themes which one will continue to see develop is his later works, but Titus Andronicus is very different from the later plays by Shakespeare partly due to the strong female presence throughout . Titus Andronicus Summary Essay Sample. After ten long years of fighting a war against the “barbarous” Goths, Roman general Titus Andronicus returns home with the bodies of his two dead sons and a crew of important war prisoners, including Tamora (queen of the Goths), her sons (Demetrius and Chiron) and Aaron the Moor.