This paper is a study on Titus Andronicus (1594) by William Shakespeare. Titus Andronicus may be Shakespeare’s earliest tragedy. It also has a structure of a revenge-play following Greco-Roman classic writers; Seneca, Vergil, and Ovid. Between the late 1580’s and the early 1590’s revenge-plays called ‘tragedy of blood’ were very popular among the Elizabethan audience. Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus was one of them. And it has been said that Titus Andronicus is ‘by far the bloodiest work of all Shakespeare’s plays.’ In fact there are many instances of cruelty and violence in the play; executions, murders, rape, mutilations, and cannibalism. Since it lost popularity during the Victorian era because of its cruelty and unsuitableness for taste, Titus Andronicus has been rarely presented on the contemporary stage.
The main purpose of this paper is to analyze and discuss how Shakespeare wrote his first tragedy as a revenge-play. Naturally, it is clear that Titus Andronicus is an unpolished or immature play, compared with the artistic quality of the later works of Shakespeare. Paradoxically speaking, however, it could be said that Titus Andronicus is, as it were, a starting point for Shakespeare’s later plays. In this paper, by examining dramaturgy and the dramatis personae of Titus Andronicus, I would like to clarify the peculiar allure of this play.