Titus Andronicus


William Shakespeare

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Titus Andronicus: Act 2, Scene 4 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Demetrius and Chiron enter with a mutilated Lavinia, whose hands and tongue have been cut off. Demetrius and Chiron tease her about her inability to speak or write and thus reveal who raped her.
The sight of a mutilated Lavinia again heightens the amount of violence and suffering displayed on-stage beyond what was customary in revenge tragedies, while Demetrius and Chiron continue to display their barbarity.
Violence and Justice Theme Icon
Rome, Romans, and Barbarians Theme Icon
After Demetrius and Chiron leave, Marcus enters and discovers Lavinia. Marcus is horrified and asks what has happened to her and who has cut off her hands. He asks why she doesn’t say anything, before he realizes that her tongue has been cut out. He compares her to Philomela—a character in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (an ancient Roman, mythological epic poem) who was raped and had her tongue cut out—and desperately notes that Lavinia has suffered even worse. He wishes he knew who did this to her, so that he could seek revenge. Finally, he takes her to go see Titus and laments to her, “O, could our mourning ease thy misery!”
Marcus’ outcry, “O, could our mourning ease thy misery!” gets to the heart of the issue of mourning. It seems ineffectual and does nothing to ease Lavinia’s pain or circumstances, but Marcus still feels compelled to lament her pain. Unlike Titus, who will later claim that there is some value in an outpouring of grief, Marcus regards excessive mourning as ultimately purposeless.
Grief and Mourning Theme Icon
Literary Devices