Sunday, December 11, 2016

Dr. Faustus: Act 5; Titus Andronicus: Day 1

Dr. Faustus (Act 5, scenes 2 & 3). Let's read the rest of this play. After our reading, please take a moment to consider the following information:

Titus Andronicus is believed to be Shakespeare's first tragedy. He may have co-authored it with George Peele (although we can't be certain) between 1588 and 1593. Popular in his day, the play is thought to be needlessly violent and the most bloody of all his revenge plays.

The play is set at the end of the Roman Empire and tells the fictional story of a Roman general, Titus, who runs afoul of Tamora, Queen of the Goths. As you watch the play/film (see below) please take notes on the following for your notebook.

Major Characters:
  • Titus Andronicus – A renowned Roman general
  • Tamora – Queen of the Goths; afterwards Empress of Rome
  • Aaron– a Moor; involved in a sexual relationship with Tamora
  • Lucius – Titus's eldest son
  • Lavinia – Titus's daughter
  • Marcus Andronicus – Titus's brother
  • Demetrius – Tamora's son
  • Chiron – Tamora's other son; allusion to the centaur Chiron
  • Saturninus – Son of the late Roman Emperor; afterwards declared Emperor
  • Bassianus – Saturninus's brother; in love with Lavinia
Minor Characters:
  • Quintus – Titus's son
  • Martius – Titus's son
  • Mutius – Titus's son
  • Young Lucius – Lucius's son 
  • Publius – Marcus's son 
  • Nurse
  • Clown
  • Sempronius – Titus's kinsman
  • Caius – Titus's kinsman
  • Valentine – Titus's kinsman 
  • Alarbus – Tamora's son (non-speaking role)
  • Revenge
  • Human Kindness & Pity (and its limitations) (Cruelty, as its opposite as well)
  • Limbs (usually being hacked off--"parts" of the body just as children are "part" of the parent's body, and citizens are part of the body politic...)
  • Animals (particularly fierce bestial a wilderness of tigers, but also birds of prey, and their victims.)
  • Astrology (reference to Fate and the stars)

Ovid's Metamorphoses (the story of Philomela, in particular)
Seneca's play Thyestes (the myth of the House of Atreus--The Orestia)

Information about Julie Taymor (director; also directed The Lion King on Broadway, Across the UniverseSpiderman the Musical (on Broadway) and Fridaand the cast of Titus (1999)

While we're not exactly ready to discuss the finer elements of film, Julie Taymor's film is an effective visual work.

Notice what the camera is doing while watching the film. The camera provides POV in a film and conveys meaning, both literally and symbolically. As you watch look out for examples of:

  • Motifs
  • Frequency
  • Synechdoche

Listen to how TONE is created by the use of diegetic and non-diegetic sound elements. As you watch, also keep in mind the key themes and development of plot and characters Shakespeare uses in this play.

HOMEWORK: None. Keep writing your play projects!

Feel free to: 1. Pick a myth or Shakespearean story and update it (that's what Shakespeare did with Titus Andronicus--a retelling of the house of Atreus myth--like Agamemnon), or write your own version of 1). someone "selling" their soul (or selling out) in order to get ahead or gain power, etc., or 2). a revenge play. It works like this: a character slights or causes tragedy to another person's family or fortune. A close friend or family member of the victim exacts revenge. Usually, there is a confidante character--a character who the avenger can tell his/her plans to. Then the avenger finds ways to get back at the offending character.  

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