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Tamora And Lavinia's Role Of Women In 'Titus Andronicus'

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There are only two female characters in the entire play Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare. These two women, Tamora and Lavinia, seem to be complete opposites. Tamora appears to give up her femininity in the name of revenge and power, while Lavinia’s femininity and value as a woman is taken from her. Tamora has power outside of men, but Lavinia only has power when men aid her. The play portrays Tamora as a sensual strong being, whereas Lavinia encompasses the more traditional virtuous, passive role that a woman would be expected to take. By creating this dichotomy between the two women, the play is able to explore female sexuality and power. When Tamora and Lavinia first appear in the play they seem to be quite similar. Both the women are treated like property to be traded between men. Lavinia is traded between Saturninus and Bassianus and at one point Bassianus says “this made is mine” (1.1.279). In this moment Lavinia is not her own person, but is the property of a man, and she appears to have no will of her own. Slightly later in the same scene, Tamora seems to be in the same position as Lavinia. Saturninus, after losing Lavinia to Bassianus, decides “I choose thee, Tamora, for my bride and will crate thee Empress of Rome” (1.1.322-23). Tamora…show more content…
The power that Lavinia has is not like Tamora’s, which is traditionally masculine. Lavinia’s power is in her femininity. She is able to attract the attention of many men, including Demetrius and Chiron, Tamora’s sons. At one point, Chiron is begging Demetrius to let him have Lavinia saying that he will “plead my passions for Lavinia’s love” (2.1.36). It does not matter to these two men that Lavinia is married; she is still just as attractive to them. Lavinia has the power to attract these men to her by her femininity, but she is not able to ward off their attack because her power is limited to being feminine, not being strong and convincing, like
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