Titus Andronicus: Revenge As A Form Of Justice

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? This phrase has been used for centuries by people wanting to revenge to someone who caused them some type of harm, hurt, betrayal or vengeance. Many considered revenge as a form of justice, they believe that by inflicting the same punishment to the person that caused them pain is a logical and fair act of justice. The word justice means fair, equal to both parties. The Justice system for example, is the organ that implements and execute laws created by men to bring to justice criminals and others that break the law. But what about when those laws weren’t yet created and implemented in a more rational society that chooses to follow them, during days that laws were not yet created and the ones created pretty much meant death. Could revenge means justice or crime. The Judicial and the Justice system works as Society’s big brother or savior. It works by sending those who cause harm, pain, or any criminal action against a citizen to trial and if convicted handing a punishment to the individual or individuals. This is a form of revenge and by that a form of justice, justified or not.

The topic I’m going to be exploring in this essay is about Titus Andronicus and his battles and legacy, the ones around him and the actions taken by all of them against one another in the peruse of power and revenge. When Titus became Emperor, he enters with captives from his successful war against the Goths. Leading Rome in a way that many of his enemies didn’t approve and there for planning revenge on the Emperor. Titus had a very particular way of leading, making honor and discipline his priorities even if that meant the lives of his children. When Bassanius runs away with Lavinia, it became clear that it was too much of a betrayal of the youngest against his brother and his father the Emperor, setting up events that would cause Titus to kill his youngest son. To him the revenge against his youngest would be a perfect example of justice for him as an Emperor and to his other son that lost Lavinia when they ran away. The value of life in those days were lesser than today. In those days your reputation and image were above it all. To Titus the actions of Bessanius was a total betrayal and death was the way found to punish and revenge his honor and reputation.

When Titus successfully promotes Saturninus as the next in line to take over the crown as Emperor, his son quickly shows how little gratitude he had for the honor of being chosen but also demonstrate impatience and fear of his brother and the honor and peoples genuine support they have won for themselves and by choosing Tamora as his Queen he gives her all the power and ammunition to start her own revenge against them. Tamora being the evil person she was, supported her sons in the rape of Lavinia. Revenge was the only thing in Tamora’s mind.

Part of the revenge for justice can highlighted with the actions during the killing of bassianus by the Goths princes when the two brothers killed him and the unfortunate faith of the Andronici’s brothers Quintus and Martius found the body of his brother and were framed resulting in their beheadings. When a person witnesses a series of events against them or their loved ones going unpunished, revenge to them becomes the only logical outcome. Many times, when the perpetrator is in a position of power, in a position that nothing or very little will happen to them, that rage might bring a person to seek revenge as the only option. When Titus offered his hand to be sent to the Emperor for the lives of his two children, and even after losing his hand they carried on with the execution of his boys, Titus only choice was to plan the revenge for their lives, in his mind bringing justice to the injustice. In modern day society doing justice with your own hands is also an act of crime, bringing you to the same category of the person who committed the criminal action. Many nations will not convict the person the takes justice inti their own hands, places in South America and middle east and even here in North America sometimes acquit the person who inflict justice with their own hands, a father whom child was raped, the man accused was caught by the villagers, lynched by the entire neighborhood and not one person was convicted, the action many times can be described as a total loss of reality, when that person willing to revenge his loved one can only see revenge as justice. One can only ask itself, if something traumatic as having a loved one raped, murdered or significantly hurt by someone and justice doesn’t prevail, is revenge a type of justice, is it justified? Or not? The laws created by modern society is a way to limit and stop the an “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” mentality and somehow put the entire power of punishment and justice in the hands of authorities and Governments, with the idea of a fair chance for a trial and minimizing killings of others. Creating a society with laws and order.

When Lavinia shows Marcus and Titus the tale of Philomel, who was raped and had her tongue cut off so she couldn’t say who did it, but instead using sewing materials, she was able to sew the names of her attackers, Livia did something similar was able to communicate with Marcus and Titus the names of her attackers, Chiron and Demetrius. The sense of revenge once again took over Titus body and mind and to his justice had to be served. The differences between a rage taken revenge and a premeditated revenge can sometimes be very different, but does it justify the action? Is a premeditated revenge for justice more evil than a momentary rage revenge?

When Titus planned his revenge against Tamora and her evil sons, he was already in the mode of revenge and justice, when the Queen and the Emperor arrived for dinner, he carefully executed his plans to snatch Chiron and Demetrius and slaughter them, making them an example by cooking them into a pie and serving them to her mother Tamora, for his final act of revenge and justice, he announces that her sons were the attackers of Lavinia and the murderers of his son, he then stabs her in rage and committed to end the reign of terror by Tamora, even if that meant costing his life, sacrificing himself was also a way of justice for failing to save his children and ordering the murder of his youngest son. He was then killed by Saturninus and Saturninus was slain by Lucius who later became Rome’s Emperor.

In my opinion revenge can be a form of justice, however it’s hard to compare todays laws to back then. When serving justice to an individual, we must first learn what was done in order to have justice served, then one must find out the seriousness of the action in order to serve a fair punishment. To this day in different cultures punishments can be delivered by people in the moment of rage and nothing will happen to them, many times relating religious believes as a reason for revenge for justice. In Saudi Arabia adultery is a capital punishment, in Pakistan in some villages the stoning of the accused still a part of revenge for justice. Many times, a person gets so enraged by anger that the process of rational thoughts doesn’t come to mind, it’s almost like a tunnel vision, like a bull locking its eyes into a target and charging it. There’s a difference between revenge back then and revenge now. Back then revenge was for honor and in many cases, it would end up in bloodshed and more revenge for justice. In today’s world, the revenge for justice still exist in a legal form called the penal system and the judicial system, created to minimize the taking into their hands the action of revenge, the laws are created to protect the victim and also give a fair chance to the accused defend himself or herself. In my opinion, revenge is a type of justice, it all depends if the person is in fact guilty of the accusation, and why the crime or action was committed.


  • Complete List of Shakespeare's Plays, by Genre :|: Open Source Shakespeare , www.opensourceshakespeare.org/views/plays/play_view.php?WorkID=titus&Act=1&Scene=1&Scope=scene.
16 August 2021
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