Titus Andronicus

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The Hunt Symbol Icon
The Andronicus family goes hunting with Bassianus, Saturninus, and Lavinia in Act 2, Scene 3. However, it is Bassianus, Lavinia, and the rest of the Andronicus family that end up being preyed upon by Demetrius, Chiron, Aaron, and Tamora. This reversal—where hunter becomes the hunted—encapsulates the process of revenge. One character may begin as the avenger, but he or she soon becomes the object of someone else’s act of revenge. Violence and revenge are inherently unstable in the play: perpetrators of violence are likely to find their acts backfiring on them and leading to their own suffering, just like a hunter who suddenly finds himself being hunted.

The Hunt Quotes in Titus Andronicus

The Titus Andronicus quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Hunt. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Revenge Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Titus Andronicus published in 2005.
Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand,
Blood and revenge are hammering in my head.

Related Characters: Aaron the Moor (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Hunt
Page Number: 2.38-39
Explanation and Analysis:

This scene takes place during The Hunt, in which the Andronicus family goes hunting with Bassianus and Saturninus. But here, the hunters become the hunted, and are preyed on by Tamora, Aaron, and Chiron and Demetrius. Aaron begins the scene by entering alone and burying a bag of gold that will be used as a prop in his plan. Soon Tamora arrives and asks why Aaron looks so sad, making a sexual advance.

But Aaron denies Tamora, saying that his melancholy does not symbolize sexual desire. Instead, he delivers the quote shown here, saying that he is overtaken by a desire for revenge. He is captivated by his plot for revenge, and his usual desires are replaced by bloodthirst. His reference to his "hand" and "head" subtly foreshadow the eventual dismemberment and discombobulation that will plague the Andronicus family. His language here illustrates how obsessed he has become by revenge, and his refusal of Tamora shows Aaron as the central villain, conceiving of and driving the violent plans.


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Revenge it as you love your mother’s life,
Or be you not henceforth called my children.

Related Characters: Tamora (speaker), Bassianus, Demetrius and Chiron
Related Symbols: The Hunt, The Body
Page Number: 2.3.114-115
Explanation and Analysis:

Aaron has left Tamora alone, but not before the pair has been spotted by Bassianus and Lavinia. Bassianus and Lavina each make fun of Tamora for cuckolding Saturninus and for sleeping with a Moor (revealing their own racist views of darker-skinned people). When Chiron and Demetrius enter, Tamora delivers a long speech in which she accuses Bassianus and Lavinia of tricking her and threatening to kill her. Tamora tells her sons to avenge her, inciting them to murder Bassianus, throw him in the pit, and commit the rape that Aaron planned.

These lines are particularly violent and twisted: Tamora asks her children to transmute love for their mother into violent revenge, and threatens to disown her if they don't. Love and violence are intermingled, and the acts of murder and rape are framed as familial love. The speech is also interesting as a counterpoint to Titus's fury earlier when he disowns Mutius for stopping him from forcing Lavinia to marry Saturninus. In each case a parent's love is predicated on their children's obedience. At the same time, the cycle (like all cycles of violence) keeps amping up to higher levels, and Titus's desire to make his daughter marry the Emperor is not at the same level as Tamora's demand that they murder Bassianus and rape Lavinia.

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The Hunt Symbol Timeline in Titus Andronicus

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Hunt appears in Titus Andronicus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Revenge Theme Icon
...sons ask for Saturninus’ pardon. Saturninus publicly forgives them. Titus invites Saturninus to go on a hunt with him the next day as a gesture of reconciliation and Saturninus accepts the invitation. (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
...them that there will be an opportunity for them to do so during the upcoming hunting trip . He suggests that they tell Tamora about their plans, so that she may advise... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Revenge Theme Icon
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
Marcus, Titus, and Titus’ sons prepare for the hunt . Titus tells his sons to watch out for Saturninus, as he has been “troubled... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Revenge Theme Icon
Alone during the hunt , Aaron buries a bag of gold under a tree. Tamora arrives and suggests she... (full context)