If one consequence of the numerous deaths and violent acts of the play is revenge, the other is mourning. As characters experience ever-increasing pains over the course of the play, they are plunged deeper and deeper into grief—especially Titus. The repeated scenes of grieving beg the question of whether such lamentation is actually worth anything or is simply useless. In Act 3, Scene 1, Lucius tells Titus that he “lament[s] in vain,” but Titus says that he “tell[s] [his] sorrows to the stones” and that there is some consolation in this. Marcus advises Titus to “let reason govern thy lament,” but Titus insists on an outpouring of grief. Later in the same scene, though, Titus begins to laugh, saying “I have not another tear to shed.” He is, in a sense, pushed beyond the limits of grief and can then only turn to cold-hearted revenge.
The play also brings up the question of how much grief is fitting or appropriate for someone to display. Titus is plunged into extreme outbursts of grief, whereas Marcus and Young Lucius (Lucius’ son) practice restrained mourning for the death of Titus and pay their respects to the dead within reason, taking care to have Lavinia and Titus buried in the Andronicus family tomb. As a way of responding to suffering, mourning may not change anything, but, within reasonable limits, it may help people cope and move on, as Marcus, Lucius, and Young Lucius hope to do at the play’s close. And as a response to tragedy, it at least seems preferable to revenge.
Grief and Mourning ThemeTracker
Grief and Mourning Quotes in Titus Andronicus
O noble father, you lament in vain.
The Tribunes hear you not; no man is by,
And you recount your sorrows to a stone.
My grief was at the height before thou cam’st,
And now like nilus it disdaineth bounds.
Sweet father, cease your tears, for at your grief
See how my wretched sister sobs and weeps.
“But”? How if that fly had a father and mother?
How would he hang his slender gilded wings
And buzz lamenting doings in the air!
Poor harmless fly,
That, with his pretty buzzing melody,
Came here to make us merry! And thou hast killed him.
Kinsmen, his sorrows are past remedy.
Join with the Goths, and with revengeful war
Take wreak on Rome for this ingratitude,
And vengeance on the traitor Saturnine.