Titus Andronicus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Titus Andronicus Study Guide." Course Hero. 22 Mar. 2018. Web. 16 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Titus-Andronicus/>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2018, March 22). Titus Andronicus Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 16, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Titus-Andronicus/

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)



Course Hero. "Titus Andronicus Study Guide." March 22, 2018. Accessed November 16, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Titus-Andronicus/.


Course Hero, "Titus Andronicus Study Guide," March 22, 2018, accessed November 16, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Titus-Andronicus/.

Titus Andronicus | Act 4, Scene 2 | Summary



Young Lucius arrives at the palace and presents the gifted weapons to Demetrius and Chiron. He departs, and Demetrius notices the weapons are wrapped in scrolls. On them are written lines from Horace's Odes: Integer vitae, scelerisque purus, Non eget Mauri iaculis, nec arcu ("The man who is of pure life and free from sin needs not the bows and arrows of the Moor.") Aaron guesses Titus has discovered their guilt.

A nurse brings in Tamora's newborn son. The child is dark in complexion and obviously Aaron's. The nurse tells Aaron Tamora is sending the child to him to kill so it is not discovered by Saturninus. Aaron refuses to kill his own son, asking in outrage "Is black so base a hue?", but Demetrius and Chiron are willing. Aaron threatens to kill anyone who tries to harm the child. He reminds them the child is their brother, and they relent. Aaron asks the nurse who else knows the child's race, and after learning there is only one midwife he kills the nurse. He instructs Demetrius and Chiron to hide the nurse's body in the fields and send the midwife to him so he may kill her as well. Aaron makes plans to find one of his countrymen who lives nearby and has a fair-skinned newborn child. He plans to switch the children, believing the couple will be willing to give the child up to a more privileged life.


The theme of family obligations is developed in this scene by the sheer number of parental situations it presents. First, the audience is surprised by the appearance of Tamora and Aaron's baby. It may seem as if not enough time has passed for Tamora and Saturninus to have a child together, but realism was not an important feature of Elizabethan drama, and an inaccurate timeline would not have mattered to Shakespeare's audience. What is important is Aaron thinks he can swap his dark-skinned baby for a light-skinned one and trick Saturninus into thinking it is his own child.

Next, Aaron takes on a new parental role. The development of Aaron as a father makes a comparison with Titus inevitable. Both men take their parental responsibilities seriously. Titus seeks violent revenge for actions against his children. Aaron immediately resorts to violence—killing the nurse—to protect his son. In contrast, Tamora, as a mother, seems much less invested in the life of her new son than Aaron is. She clearly sees the child as evidence against her, not as an infant under her care. This suggests her relationship with her children is more about what they bring her, not about her feelings as a mother.

Finally, Aaron assumes a poor couple will be willing to give up their child so it will have a better life as the son of the emperor. As parents, they are expected to look out for their child's best interests.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Titus Andronicus? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!