Titus Andronicus


William Shakespeare

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Titus Andronicus: Style 1 key example

Read our modern English translation.
Explanation and Analysis:

Titus Andronicus was written sometime between 1588 and 1593. This drama is often referred to as Shakespeare's first tragedy. However, the play is not regarded as one of his better works, and although it was initially popular with the playwright’s contemporary audiences, the gruesome violence that constitutes the majority of the plot was not received well by later audiences, particularly during the Victorian period. In fact, the authorship of the play has been subject to debate by scholars, who question the literary quality and complexity of the text—though most do believe that Shakspeare at least co-wrote the play.

Titus Andronicus is written in a mix of blank verse poetry and prose. Blank verse refers to poetry written in regular, metered lines that are unrhymed. Iambic pentameter is the most common form of blank verse, in which a single line is composed of 10 syllables of alternating unstressed and stressed syllables (or five iambs), and this is the meter with which the higher class characters speak throughout the play. Prose dialogue is spoken by the lower class characters in the play. This division in language is stylistically consistent with Shakespeare’s other works. The play is divided into five acts, with a varying number of scenes per act. Titus Andronicus is full of wordplay and puns, vivid metaphors, and allusions that create a tense and tragic story.