Paper 4 - 20488204 Theater R1A Section 6 Paper 4 Taymor's...

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20488204 Theater R1A, Section 6 November 12, 2009 Paper # 4: Taymor’s Image of Shakespearean Wilderness In the words of William Shakespeare, “Rome is but a wilderness of tigers” (III.i.55). It reflects a world populated by predators and preys, where predators dominate aggressively and violently—a world where humans take on this animalistic behavior. In his play Titus Andronicus , Shakespeare depicts this violent society fueled by revenge and the quest for power. Although experts question the authenticity of Titus Andronicus as a true Shakespearean creation, one thing is certain—the playwright’s staple use of animal imagery inhabits throughout the play. Director Julie Taymor adapts this stylistic technique to assimilate her own sociopolitical views into the tragedy. She takes Shakespeare’s subtle animal references and explodes them onto a larger scale in the 1999 motion picture Titus . Taymor uses animal imagery to critique the aggressive behaviors of human violence, suggesting that by succumbing to these actions, humans degenerate into a primitive level. In Taymor’s representation of a wild and barbaric jungle, Chiron and Demetrius epitomize their predatory images through their performances as Rape and Murder, mirroring their desire to victimize and kill. Just as a predator forages for its prey, Chiron and Demetrius hunt to quench their thirst and hunger for malice. After their villainous mother’s matrimonial union to the emperor, Chiron and Demetrius roam in the wilderness of Rome untamed and unrestrained. These boys crave sex and thirst for revenge on Titus’s family; therefore, they plot to “make pillage of [Lavinia’s] chastity / And wash their hands in Bassianus’ blood” (II.iii.44-45). In order to satisfy their hunger for sex, Chiron and Demetrius entrap Titus’s daughter Lavinia in the woods where they ravish and mutilate her. In addition, they murder Bassianus with the intention of framing Titus’s sons for the crime. Shakespeare highlights the animalistic nature of this scene by setting it in the woods, emphasizing only animals attack in this wild environment. Fueled by lust and vengeance, Chiron and Demetrius prey on Lavinia 1
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and Bassianus. The audience witnesses this animalistic image depicted literally when Taymor dresses Chiron and Demetrius in tiger and hawk attires. During this scene, the boys join their mother Tamora and disguise themselves as Murder and Rape. Not only do Chiron and Demetrius dress as these two predators, but they also choreograph their body movements to mirror that of an aggressive feline and fierce bird. While luring Titus to speak with the disguised Tamora, Chiron, disguised as Murder, lays
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This note was uploaded on 11/23/2009 for the course THEATER R1A taught by Professor Steen during the Fall '08 term at Berkeley.

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Paper 4 - 20488204 Theater R1A Section 6 Paper 4 Taymor's...

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