'Such Violent Hands'
The Theme of Cannibalism and the Implications of Authorship in the 1623 Text of Titus Andronicus
For many, ‘Titus Andronicus’ exemplifies the extreme visual horror which characterises the subgenre of Elizabethan revenge tragedy. Long recognised as a collaboration between William Shakespeare and George Peele, the play’s notorious denouement – in which a Gothic queen is tricked into eating her slaughtered sons – has often been interpreted as a satire upon the revenge genre itself. Yet the nature of the play has recently been complicated by the claim that an additional banquet scene, only present in the 1623 Folio, may be a later addition written by a third dramatist, probably Thomas Middleton, and incorporated into the play sometime after 1616. This article will consider the implications of this probability further. It will explore how the author was not simply adding new material to ‘Titus Andronicus’ in order to provide a new selling point for a later revival of the work, but was constructing a new sequence designed to mirror and complement the already infamous cannibalistic conclusion of the original text. Understanding this scene as a later addition, we can now better understand how this additional scene serves as an integral turning point in the drama’s narrative, and is far less ‘disposable’ than previous critics have been equipped to realise.
Copyright (c) 2020 William David Green
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY), which permits use and redistribution of the work provided that the original author and source are credited, a link to the license is included, and an indication of changes which were made. Third-party users may not apply legal terms or technological measures to the published article which legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
If accepted for publication authors’ work will be made open access and distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license unless previously agreed with Exchanges’ Editor-in-Chief prior to submission.
Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work. (see: The Effect of Open Access)