Titus Andronicus is an example of the genre of drama called revenge tragedy (another, very different, example is Shakespeare’s Hamlet), so it is no surprise that revenge is central to the play. The play unfolds as a series of acts of revenge that plunge the characters into a spiral of eye-for-eye and tooth-for-tooth violence, summed up well by Lucius: “There’s meed for meed, death for a deadly deed.” But, as the play demonstrates, revenge does not annul or cancel out a crime or violent act. Rather, it only continues a cycle of violence. Titus kills Tamora’s oldest son as revenge for the loss of some of his own children, but this only causes her to seek revenge on him. But neither does her revenge solve the matter; it only prompts Titus to seek further vengeance on her. The tragedy concludes not because revenge finally settles any disputes, but because by the end of the play no one is left alive to seek further vengeance. Shakespeare thus takes a common convention of tragic plots—revenge—and explores it to its fullest extent throughout the play, even having Tamora appear disguised as the very personification of Revenge in Act 5. Ultimately, Shakespeare reveals revenge as an alluring and tempting, but ultimately ineffective and harmful, response to personal injury and loss.
Revenge Quotes in Titus Andronicus
Traitor, if Rome have law or we have power,
Thou and thy faction shall repent this rape.
Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand,
Blood and revenge are hammering in my head.
Revenge it as you love your mother’s life,
Or be you not henceforth called my children.
Remember, boys, I poured forth tears in vain
To save your brother from the sacrifice,
but fierce Andronicus would not relent.
Therefore away with her, and use her as you will;
The worse to her, the better loved of me.
And swear with me—as, with the woeful fere
And father of that chaste dishonored dame,
Lord Junius Brutus swore for Lucrece’ rape—
That we will prosecute by good advice
Mortal revenge upon these traitorous Goths,
And see their blood or die with this reproach.
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.
There’s meed for meed, death for a deadly deed.
Now judge what cause had Titus to revenge
These wrongs unspeakable, past patience,
Or more than any living man could bear.
Now have you heard the truth. What say you, Romans?
Have we done aught amiss?