Titus Andronicus Summary | Play by William Shakespeare | Neb English Support Class 12

Titus Andronicus Summary | Play by William Shakespeare | Neb English Support Class 12
Neb English Support Class 12

Titus Andronicus Summary | Play by William Shakespeare | Neb English Support Class 12

Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare



Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare 

Tamora plans a false accusation, rape, murder and mutilation.  Titus plans to murder and cannibalism.  This isn't a happy play.



Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare 

The Roman general Titus Andronicus returns from battle with four prisoners who vow revenge against him.  They rape and mutilate Titus' daughter and kill his sons and drive them away.  Titus kills two of them and bakes them into a pie, which he serves to their mother before killing her as well.  The emperor of Rome kills Titus, and Titus' last remaining son also kills the emperor and takes his place.



Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

Act I

Both brothers Saturninus and Bassianus stand for election to succeed their father as Emperor of Rome.  Later the tribune, Marcus Andronicus, declares that the preferred contender of the people was his brother, General Titus.  Soon after, Titus returns from battle along with five prisoners: Tamora, Queen of the Goths, her three sons, and Aaron the Moor.  Titus sacrifices the eldest son of Tamaro, despite his mother's pleas, as a part of a burial ritual for his sons.  Later, Titus is offered the throne but he declines the opportunity to become emperor because he is much too old.  However, he offers his support to Saturninus.  He presents Tamora and her two remaining sons to Saturninus, who is now the Emperor.

Saturninus plans to claim Lavinia (the daughter of Titus) as his wife.  His brother Bassianus opposes this act as he is already in love with Lavinia and is betrothed to her.  Lavinia's brother Mutius tries to help her, but Titus, angered by this, kills his own son Mutius.  Despite this, Saturninus later decides that he would prefer Tamora as his empress.  He frees her and her remained sons, along with Tamora's lover, Aaron the Moor.  After a bitter argument, Titus agrees that Mutius may be buried in the tomb of Andronici.

Act II

While Aaron talks of his secret love for Tamora, his sons enter, fighting over who will marry Lavinia.  Aaron calms them down and suggests that instead of marrying, the two of them rape her during a royal hunt.  In the woods, Aaron is burying a cache of gold when Tamora finds him.  She learns of the conspiracies he has made to kill Bassianus and frame Titus' sons for the murder.  During a royal hunt, Tamora's sons kill Bassianus and dump the body in a pit near the hidden gold.  They even capture Lavinia for themselves.  Aaron leads Titus' sons to the same pit where they both fall, and Saturninus finds them.  Saturninus makes his conclusion that Titus' sons have murdered Bassianus for the gold.

Marcus Andronicus finds his niece, Lavinia, wandering after being raped and mutilated by Tamora's sons.  They have cut off her hands and tongue so that she can't testify against them.


In Rome, Titus begs for his sons' lives who have been charged with murdering Bassianus.  But his request is ignored.  His one and only remaining son, Lucius, is banished for supporting his brothers' pleas of innocence.  Both Lucius' son and Titus are reunited with a mutilated Lavinia and her uncle Marcus.  Aaron offers a reprieve for the accused sons if one of the families will send his hand to the emperor as ransom.  Titus cuts off his hand, but in return doesn't receive his sons' freedom but their heads.  He receives his rejected hand too.

Act IV

Titus hovers on the edge of insanity as he contemplates the injustice done to his family.  Then he finds out who raped Lavinia and cut off her tongue and hands.  She uses her stumpy hands to turn the pages of a book into the story of the charming Philomel.  And, clutching a stick, she writes the names of Tamora's sons in the sand.

Aaron learns that Titus has discovered the truth about both murder and rape.  But before he can do anything about it, the newborn baby of Tamora is brought to him.  The queen wants it to be killed because its dark skin suggests that Saturninus is not the father (and that Aaron is).  Aaron kills the nurse to stop her from spreading the story and escapes with his son.

Titus looks deranged now.  He organizes some of his followers to send arrows to Saturninus' palace with messages challenging the gods.  He even sends two pigeons and a knife to the emperor.  Saturninus kills the messenger and swears that Titus will die for his threats.

Act V

During these events, Titus' exiled son Lucius joined the forces of the Goths and led them against Rome.  Aaron and the baby are brought to him as prisoners.  Lucius promises to save the child, and Aaron tells the truth about Bassianus' death.  Meanwhile, Tamora visits 'mad' Titus in the hope that he will be able to turn the tide of the battle with Lucius and the Goths.  She leaves her sons with him, and a devastated Lavinia confronts them.  Titus tells the sons that they will become flesh to feed on their mother and kills them with Lavinia's help.

Titus makes arrangements for a banquet with Saturninus and Tamora as chief guests.  He seats both of them just beside the veiled Lavinia.  Titus relates to Saturninus the story of Virginius, who killed his daughter to save her from shame.  As the Emperor agrees Virginius was right, Titus stabs and kills Lavinia.  He then tells of the crimes committed against her by the sons of Tamora.  Saturninus demands that the Princes be brought to him.  Titus explains that they are already at the feast;  they are included as the meat in the pies that Tamora and the others are eating.  Finally, Titus stabs Tamora, Saturninus kills Titus, and Lucius kills Saturninus.

In the resulting confusion, Marcus Andronicus calms everyone by summoning the exiled Lucius, Titus' only remaining son, to explain the horrific story.  He reveals that the main villain was Aaron, who remains in prison.  The play ends with Lucius being crowned emperor and condemning the unrepentant Aaron to be buried alive.  The Romans provide Titus and Lavinia with a royal burial, and Lucius throws Tamora's body outside as food for the birds.



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