Let’s see what the esteemed Royal Shakespeare Company has to say:
A summary of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus – his most bloody revenge tragedy.
The brothers Saturninus and Bassianus are in contention for the Roman emperorship.
Titus Andronicus, Rome’s most honoured general, returns from wars against the Goths with their queen, Tamora, her sons and her lover, Aaron the Moor, as captives. Her eldest son is sacrificed by Titus; she vows revenge.
A NEW EMPEROR
Titus is nominated emperor by his brother Marcus, one of Rome’s tribunes. This Titus declines, instead nominating Saturninus.
To seal the bond of friendship, the new emperor, Saturnius, offers to marry Titus’s daughter Lavinia. She, however, is already pledged to Bassianus.
Saturninus, by now infatuated with Tamora, makes her empress instead.
Manipulated by Aaron, Tamora’s sons, Chiron and Demetrius, avenge their mother by raping and mutilating Lavinia, and killing Bassianus. Aaron falsely implicates two of Titus’s sons in this murder.
In his turn Titus vows revenge and sends his surviving son Lucius to the Goths to raise an army. Titus achieves his revenge by killing Tamora’s sons and serving them up to her at a banquet, and then killing her.
He himself is killed by Saturninus and his death avenged by Lucius, who is made emperor.
Pleasant stuff there. I remember my jerkface English teacher in high school telling us how much Titus Andronicus sucked and how we shouldn’t even bother reading it.
And ask much of a jerkface as my English teacher was, the character of Aaron is a straight up dick.
And, in typical Shakespearean fashion, he’s bad simply because he’s bad. Though one could argue he’s bad because he’s the victim of racist abuse for…like ever.
I found some videos on Youtube of actors doing Aaron’s confession. Aaron is an interesting character for any actor because on one hand he absorbs all sorts of racism and actually kills someone on account of her racial slurs:
“Zounds, ye whore! Is black so base a hue?”
Yet at the same time seems to think having dark skin makes it OK for him to run around killing everyone:
“Let fools do good, and fair men call for grace; Aaron will have his soul black like his face.”
Here is the monologue:
|AARON||Ay, that I had not done a thousand more.|
|Even now I curse the day–and yet, I think,|
|Few come within the compass of my curse,–|
|Wherein I did not some notorious ill,|
|As kill a man, or else devise his death,||130|
|Ravish a maid, or plot the way to do it,|
|Accuse some innocent and forswear myself,|
|Set deadly enmity between two friends,|
|Make poor men’s cattle break their necks;|
|Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night,||135|
|And bid the owners quench them with their tears.|
|Oft have I digg’d up dead men from their graves,|
|And set them upright at their dear friends’ doors,|
|Even when their sorrows almost were forgot;|
|And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,||140|
|Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,|
|‘Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.’|
|Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things|
|As willingly as one would kill a fly,|
|And nothing grieves me heartily indeed||145|
|But that I cannot do ten thousand more.|
There are multiple versions of Aaron’s confession monologue on Youtube. Let’s take a look:
He did it for the lolz.
For more Shakespeare monologues, check out:
Join us later this week when we meet Canada’s unsung playwriting hero – until next time…
Here’s a complete list of monologues on the site.