Is Titus Andronicus a Political Tragedy?

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‘Titus Andronicus is as much a political tragedy to do with the failed moral idealism of the hero’s idea of Rome as it is a domestic one about what happens to him and his family.’ Discuss. In his play, Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare portrays the situation around the downfall of Rome. He uses one family’s tragedy as a means of displaying the political turmoil and corruption of the Roman Empire. The play focuses on the family of Titus Andronicus, a famed Roman military leader. The conflict of the play begins during a struggle for the throne, which at its end only begets a period of corruption and betrayal. The dramatic qualities of the play begin to show themselves as Titus seeks to avenge the brutal rape of his daughter and in doing so begins to rid the Roman Empire of the corruptors. While Shakespeare’s emphasis on the downfall of Rome is evident throughout the play, the audience cannot help but witness the downfall of Titus’ family as well. Shakespeare displays the breakdown of each of the characters as if to symbolize the effects of the collapse of Rome in each one of them. Beginning with Bassianus, the audience witnesses his decline as the throne is taken from him and given to his brother Saturninus due to primogeniture. In many ways the play is (although not solely), a plea for elective rather than aristocratic succession in Government. Bassianus’ failure to ascend the throne is the first act depicting the decline of Rome (as he is better suited to rule than Saturninus in every way but through heritage), also set in motion the beginning of the implosion of the Andronici. The action taken by Titus cost Bassianus his future wife, Lavinia, as the new Emperor vows to take her as his wife. Martius argues: “Thou art a Roman be not barbarous,” In protest at Saturninus’ decision to make Lavinia his wife and also of Titus’ murder of his own son, Mutius, for
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