“Titus Andronicus” With Spoilers

I’ve been listening to the audio book for Simon Schama’s A History of Britain, and it made me think of my favorite British subject – Colin Firth. No, no – I’m kidding. I mean William Shakespeare. Really. Shakespeare.  Uh, yeah.

Anyway, I find it comforting to remember that even the glorious Mr. Shakespeare wrote some real oinkers in his time.  As a favor to budding authors, playwrights and English majors everywhere, I thought I would offer up a summary of one such play today – “Titus Andronicus”.  Let it be known that staid English professors across the land have made it their career goal to prove that Bill never wrote this play.  But since they can’t prove that Bill actually wrote ANY of his plays, I feel we can assume it belongs to him and he’s just going to have to own it.

According to Wikipedia, “Titus Andronicus” is Shakespeare’s “bloodiest and most violent work, and traditionally is one of his least respected plays,” but it was extremely popular back in the day.  In other words, this is the  “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” of Shakespeare plays.  Except in the Renaissance, the blood was real! MWHAHAHA!

Okay.  The play is about an ancient Roman general named Titus Andronicus (as fate would have it), who gets embroiled in ancient Roman antics.  First he returns from battle with hostages and kills one of them, earning vows of revenge from Tamora, the guy’s mother.  Then he props up an emperor who says he’ll marry Titus’s daughter, Lavinia.  But Lavinia is already betrothed to the emperor’s brother and he and Titus get in a fight.  Somehow Titus kills his own son in the scuffle – big oops.  For some reason the emperor is ticked off by that – I’m not sure if he’s angry because of the fight, or because Titus is stupid.  The emperor marries Tamora (the evil mother) and disowns Titus.

Following this so far?  It gets better.

So then Tamora’s surviving sons track down Lavinia and rape her and cut out her tongue and cut off her hands so she can’t tell.  Then two of Titus’s sons are arrested for treason.   Tamora’s lover comes to Titus and tells him that the emperor will spare his sons if Titus, his brother, or his remaining son, chop off their hand and send it to him.  They chop off the lover’s hand instead and send it to the emperor, who chops off the heads of Titus’s two sons.  Guess he didn’t like THAT hand.

And now we head to the finale.  Lavinia writes the names of her attackers in the dirt using a stick, so Titus knows it was Tamora’s sons who attacked her.  There’s some machinations, then Titus grabs Tamora’s sons and kills them.  He kills Lavinia.  He bakes Tamora’s sons into a pie, which Tamora eats at a feast.  He kills Tamora.  For that Titus in turn is killed by the emporer.  The emporer is killed by Titus’s surviving son.

The end.

There.  That was a Shakespeare play.  Now doesn’t that make you feel better about your own works in progress?  And I figure that if he can write this and still write the other beautiful things he did, well, then I there’s hope for me too. 😀

 

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