Titus Andronicus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Titus Andronicus | Act 5, Scene 2 | Summary



Tamora, Demetrius, and Chiron are wearing disguises outside of Titus's house. They knock, and when Titus looks out Tamora says she is a spirit of Revenge who has come to help him. Titus knows who she is and pretends to believe her. Tamora says the spirits with her are called Murder and Rape because they kill murderers and rapists. Titus instructs Murder (Demetrius) and Rape (Chiron) to kill Demetrius and Chiron. He tells Revenge (Tamora) to kill the empress and the Moor. Tamora agrees, suggesting Titus invite everyone to his house for a banquet at which he can take his revenge. Titus agrees and sends out invitations.

Tamora leaves, but Demetrius and Chiron stay with Titus, at his request. Titus has the two gagged, then brings in Lavinia and reveals he knows their identities and crimes. Titus says he will cook them into pies and serve them to their mother at the banquet. He cuts their throats. Lavinia collects the blood in a basin, which, along with their bones, will be made into pie crusts.


The alternate identities of Tamora, Chiron, and Demetrius are hardly disguises because Titus immediately sees through them. Tamora, of course, believes Titus has gone mad from grief and rage. And perhaps he has—his plan is grotesque, and he begins to carry it out immediately. But he is not so mad he cannot see through their disguises. In fact, there is a grim truth to these identities since Tamora's desire for revenge sets the play in motion, and her sons are murderers and rapists.

Titus begins to enact his vengeful plot against Tamora and her sons without hesitation. It is all-consuming. Even Lavinia is drawn into the revenge, in some kind of strange justice, as she operates as her father's assistant, collecting the blood of her rapists in a bowl. This action of a parent and child working together to take revenge recalls the action taken by Tamora and her children to take revenge against Titus. The violence is perpetuated as it is passed from parent to child, and also perpetuated as individuals retaliate against each other in revenge. There is no end in sight unless, or until, all parties involved die. This sense of marching closer and closer to a catastrophic event is a hallmark of tragedy.

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