Titus Andronicus Act 5, Scene 2 Summary & Analysis
New! Understand every line of Titus Andronicus.Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Tamora and her sons wait outside of Titus’ house in disguise. Tamora has dressed up as the personified deity Revenge. They knock on Titus’ door and he answers. Titus recognizes Tamora and does not want to speak to her, but Tamora tells him that she is in fact Revenge, sent to Titus to help him exact vengeance on his enemies. Titus then says that Demetrius and Chiron must be the personifications of Rape and Murder, who are attendants of Revenge, and tells Tamora to stab them to prove that they are deities. Tamora answers that she needs their assistance, so she cannot hurt them now. Titus notes how much Rape and Murder resemble Demetrius and Chiron, but pretends to be persuaded by Tamora. He leaves.
The allegorical disguises of Tamora and her children make obvious the thematic importance of revenge and violence in the play. And, indeed, Tamora is so consumed by her desire for revenge and her children by their desire for rape and murder, that it can be argued that they aren't actually in disguise at all—that their disguises as the embodiments of Vengeance, Rape, and Murder are actually extremely accurate depictions of their characters. Put another way, in disguising themselves they actually more fully reveal their true natures.
Tamora thinks that she has tricked Titus and that Titus has lost his mind. She plots to go among the Goths while Lucius is at a banquet at Titus’ house, and turn them against Lucius. Titus returns and tells “Revenge”, “Rape,” and “Murder” to look in Rome for Tamora, Demetrius, and Chiron, and to kill them. Tamora tells Titus to invite Lucius to a banquet, where she will bring Tamora, Demetrius, and Chiron to be punished. Titus sends Marcus to fetch Lucius.
Titus and Tamora continue to plot revenge against each other. Neither of them seems to realize each one’s own acts of revenge have prompted the other to strike back with more violence. Obsessed with their own vengeance, both are unaware that they are locked in a mutually reinforcing cycle of revenge, with devastating effects.
Tamora prepares to leave with her sons to go prepare for the banquet, but Titus insists that “Rape” and “Murder” stay with him. Tamora agrees and leaves. Titus immediately has Chiron and Demetrius tied up and gagged so they cannot make noise. Titus then stabs them, while Lavinia catches their blood in a basin. He tells them that he will make a paste from their blood and ground bones and use it to make a pastry that he will feed to Tamora.
As Titus kills Demetrius and Chiron and reveals his plan to feed them to Tamora, he becomes just as cruel and barbarous as Tamora and her sons (if not more so). His plan to feed Tamora her own children can be seen as the ultimate perversion of parenthood: she will consume and take back into her body the very children that she brought into the world.