Essay on Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus (or The Most Lamentable Roman Tragedy of Titus Andronicus) is perhaps the first tragedy by William Shakespeare, and certainly the bloodiest. It describes a cycle of vengeance that Titus, a fictional Roman general, lays on his enemy Tamora, Queen of Goths. From the eighteenth century, this piece was neglected. Indeed, like T. S. Eliot, there were many who felt that “Titus Andronicus is one of the more stupid among ever written plays” (Selected Essays, 1917-1932).
The tragedies of Seneca and early Elizabethan theater (Buckhurst, Thomas Kyd and other representatives of the “massacre”) became a model for the play.
Most scholars date the beginning of the play on the 1590s. The diary of Philip Henslowe Elizabethan figure “Titus Andronicus” as a new play January 24, 1594, but the accuracy of this guidance is being questioned.
In 1614, as not without irony Ben Johnson states “Titus Andronicus” and “Spanish Tragedy” by Kid have quite a few fans, and the play, he said, was 25-30 years old, which means that it was created in second half of the 1580s. In XVIII-XIX centuries, due to the abundance of horror and murder, “Titus Andronicus” lost its popularity and was regarded as perhaps the worst of Shakespeare’s plays.
Only in the last half century, after the show in 1955, starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, tragedy became widely popular (in 1970 -2000s, there were several major productions and adaptation).
All three of lifetime quarto editions of “Titus Andronicus” ware anonymous, but Francis Meres indicated in 1598, Shakespeare’s authorship and the play became a posthumous folio in 1623. There is very questionable testimony, according to which Shakespeare only guided someone else writing the play, some researchers trust this version or deny Shakespeare’s authorship because of unusual for him “barbarity” in the plot. The researchers, who fully recognize the authorship of Shakespeare, see in the schematism of images and primitive suspense in “horrific” scenes the imitation to the samples popular in 1580-1590s, and the starting point for the development of the playwright talent (thus the image of the insidious nature of the Moor Aaron anticipates Iago, a number of stage receptions is reproduced in further plays, etc.), “Titus Andronicus” is often compared with Shakespeare’s other early play, The Comedy of Errors,” which is also discipling imitation of ancient models, where the comic, like the tragic in “Titus” is treated fairly straightforward.
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