chapter  1
15 Pages

Knitting the Cord

Titus Andronicus
WithMarlena Tronicke

In Titus Andronicus, nobody commits suicide. Thus, at first glance, this might appear an unlikely choice to begin an analysis of suicide in Shakespeare. Yet Lavinia, often discounted as mere collateral damage in a play in which the bodies keep piling up, allows for one of the most interesting discussions of the topic in all of the tragedies. Whereas Hamlet reinforces suicide as the only possible way out of the tragic hero’s dilemma, Titus Andronicus reverses this scenario. Lavinia never talks about killing herself because she has lost her tongue, and the play repeatedly announces that of all the possible solutions to end her pain, suicide is the only one that is not available.