Essay Rehearsal 2: Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus offers an opportunity to explore what one might discover about a play if approached in the light of its genre. Indeed, Titus can be very instructive because it was the earliest of Shakespeare’s plays that we would categorize as a tragedy (as opposed to a ‘history’ play like Richard III, even though the title pages of the early quarto texts also called it a ‘tragedy’). Given that context and given how strange Titus Andronicus seems compared to other tragedies by Shakespeare, here’s the analytical activity of reading Titus through the lens of genre:
- Read the summaries of, or excerpts from, the Theories of Tragedy (PDF). For one of the theories, note two or three of the key points of its concept of tragedy.
- Explain in what ways that concept of tragedy applies to, and/or fails to apply to, Titus Andronicus. If we approach Titus from the perspective of that theory, what do we learn about the play?