Titus Andronicus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Titus Andronicus | Act 5, Scene 1 | Summary



Outside of Rome, Lucius and his army of Goths prepare to attack. Aaron is brought in with his infant child. He has been captured by the Goths on his way to his brother. Lucius orders the Goths to hang Aaron. A ladder is brought in, but before Aaron can be hanged he says if Lucius spares his child's life he will reveal other crimes he plotted and committed. Lucius agrees. Aaron outlines his involvement in Bassianus's death, Lavinia's rape, the framing of Quintus and Martius, and Titus's lost hand. He refuses to apologize or show remorse and claims his only regret is he cannot do many more evil deeds. In fact, he continues to brag about his many terrible deeds. Finally, Lucius declares Aaron does not deserve the mercy of a death by hanging. Aemilius arrives with Saturninus's request for a parley, or negotiation, at Titus's house, and Lucius agrees.


Despite the fact Aaron seems like a protective father, this is truly his only redeeming quality. His characterization in this scene includes his plea and confession on behalf of his child's life. But this plea is followed by a long litany of wickedness and an unrepentant attitude. Aaron's attitude toward his crimes goes beyond a lack of regret. He seems to take a great deal of pride in them, saying, "I'll show thee wondrous things."

The theme of the perpetuation of violence can be seen in Aaron's discussion of the violent actions of Chiron and Demetrius. He says they received a "codding spirit ... from their mother," suggesting they inherited a lustful (cod is a crude term for scrotum) nature from Tamora. But he also says he was their "tutor," and he taught them to have a "bloody mind." Thus, Chiron and Demetrius inherited a barbarous, lustful nature, but they learned to have a violent mind. The rape and mutilation of Lavinia is a product of both nature and nurture.

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