Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “Titus Andronicus” by William Shakespeare that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “Titus Andronicus” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “Titus Andronicus” in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “Titus Andronicus” at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay. Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints about how to use PaperStarter.com in the brief User's Guide…you'll be glad you did.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Titus Andronicus and the Madness of Revenge
As in all of Shakespeare’s tragedies, revenge is the driving source behind the plot of Titus Andronicus. Tamora is seeking revenges against Titus for murdering her sons, and in the process of destroying his family; she enrages him so much that he vows revenge upon her. Neither Tamora nor Titus feel any sort of objection of conscience at their behavior, and instead will go to any lengths to inflict pain on the other. The two most horrifying acts of revenge include the children of Tamora and the child of Titus—that is, the rape of Lavinia and the murders of Chiron and Demetrius and the subsequent cannibalism. These actions arouse the question regarding the sanity of Titus and Tamora. Could a sane and rational person, even one bent on revenge, commit such terrible atrocities? Why or why not?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Character of Aaron in Titus Andronicus
While it is easy at first to view Aaron the Moor as a simple, yet thoroughly evil villain, as the plot develops, so does his character, thus making Aaron an excellent candidate for a character analysis in Titus Andronicus. Of course, it is easy to see the evil in Aaron’s character; he inspires most of the wicked deeds that occur during the play. He is also quite unapologetic when revealing the horrific history of his past actions. However, it is important to note that Aaron is also given a few sympathetic characteristics. For example, Aaron succeeds in all of his quests to bring down Titus, and yet, he is willing to risk everything he has, including his life, for that of his newborn son. Knowing this, how do you think Shakespeare wanted his audience to view Aaron?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: Titus Andronicus and The Role of Women
Titus Andronicus is a play filled by masculine characters, with the exception of Lavinia and Tamora. These two women are complete opposites of one another, and yet, they each exhibit womanly power in their own way. Tamora transforms from a prisoner of war into the most powerful woman in Rome in less than a year. She controls Saturninus and her sons with an iron hand, and even betrays the bonds of womanhood when it suits her purposes. Lavinia is a stark contrast to Tamora; she is raped and dismembered by Chiron and Demetrius, and her own father kills her because she has become unclean. However, there are a few moments in the play when Lavinia takes control of her life, such as marrying Bassianus and identifying Chiron and Demetrius as her rapists. What do you think that Shakespeare is saying about power in the hands of a woman? Is it good or bad, and how should it be used?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Titus Andronicus and the Function of Dismemberment
Dismemberment in all forms is a common theme throughout Titus Andronicus. As more people lose limbs, it becomes clear that the body parts that they are losing are symbolic in some way. For example, Titus is a warrior and has been heralded by the people as magnificent, yet he is forced to cut off his hand, thus destroying his military career. Lavinia is meek and quiet, and eventually loses her tongue and her hands, perhaps because she was not willing to use them in the first place. Look at the other scenes of dismemberment, including the beheadings of Lavinia’s brothers. In what ways does the lost limb symbolize an aspect of the character’s personality?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #5: The Performance of Titus Andronicus
The nonstop action of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus causes the play to be one that is much better in action than in mere reading. It is easy to confuse the plot and characters when the play is simply being read, and much of the horror of the revenge plots is lost. If you have seen the Julie Taymore version of Titus Andronicus, compare and contrast the ways in which the movie portrays each of the characters, especially Lavinia. If you have not seen the Taymore version, write a detailed essay describing in which ways the text would be enhanced as a live performance versus a personal reading.
* For openly-accessible essays and articles on this and other plays by William Shakespeare, be sure to browse through the Literature Archives at ArticleMyriad.com as there are several to choose from to gain ideas. *
This list of important quotations from “Titus Andronicus” will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Shakespeare's “Titus Andronicus” listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements for “Titus Andronicus” by Shakespeare above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes from Shakespeare's “Titus Andronicus” contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.
“Ah, why should wrath be mute and fury dumb? I am no baby, I that with base prayers I should repent the evils I have done. Ten thousand worse than ever yet I did Would I perform if I might have my will. If one good deed in all my life I did I do repent it from my very soul." (V.iii.183-189)
“Lucius, save the child, and bear it from me to the Empress. If thou do this, I’ll show thee wondrous things that highly may advantage thee to hear. If thou wilt not, befall what may befall, I’ll speak no more but ‘Vengeance rot you all!’" (V.i.53-59)
“Sit down, sweet niece. Brother, sit down by me. Apollo, Pallas, Jove or Mercury Inspire me, that I may this treason find. My lord, look here. Look here, Lavinia. This sandy plot is plain. Guide if thou canst this after me." (IV.i.64-69)
“’Tis present death I beg, and one thing more that womanhood denies my tongue to tell O, keep me from their worse-than-killing lust, and tumble me into some loathsome pit where never man’s eye may behold my body. Do this, and be a charitable murderer." (II.iii.173-178)
“Be candidatus then, and put it on. And help to set a head on a headless Rome." (I.i.185-186)
“’Go home, call for sweet water, wash thy hands.’ ‘She has no tongue to call nor hands to wash, And so let’s leave her to silent walks’" (II.iv.1-4)
“’O, Publius, is not this a heavy case, to see thy noble uncle thus distraught?’ ‘Therefore, my lords, it highly us concerns by day and night t’attend him carefully and feed his humour kindly as we may, till time beget some careful remedy.’"(IV.iii.25-30)
“I am not mad, I know thee well enough" (V.ii.21)
Source: Shakespeare, William. The Norton Shakespeare. 1. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1997.