The Andronici begin to get back on their feet here in Act IV. I’m all for death and misery in a tragedy, but I was starting to wonder what else could go wrong for Titus without actually killing him. Turns out the destruction of his family and the betrayal of the country he has served for years is just about enough in Billy’s eyes. Now we begin to see Titus and co. start planning to get their revenge on those who have wronged them.
The act starts with Lavinia figuring out how to use a stick to draw in the dirt to communicate with her family. She writes out the names of her attackers and Titus immediately intuits Aaron and Tamora were not innocent in the proceedings against his sons. He and his grandson, young Lucius set off for the palace to begin their plot of revenge. Their first act seems fairly innocuous, as they deliver weapons and armor to Saturninus with inscriptions from Horace upon them. Aaron reads the verses and learns that Titus knows who is responsible for Lavinia’s state. However, he can’t do much about it because a nurse comes running in with Tamora’s new baby, who is clearly Aaron’s child. She tells Aaron that Tamora has ordered the baby killed so as to hide her infidelity from Saturninus. Aaron refuses and murders the nurse to keep her from talking. He then heads off to deliver the baby to the Goths to be raised in peace.
Titus takes his next soft step down the road to vengeance by having his cousins shoot a bunch of arrows into a crowd with letters to the gods attached to them. His cousins think he is clearly crazy, but humor him anyway. I have never checked, but I doubt my cousins would ever commit negligent homicide just to placate me. I guess that’s the difference between Titus and me.
A clown on his way to bring suit over some pigeons to the emperor is stopped by Titus, who gives him a letter to deliver directly to Saturninus. The clown accepts, even though this is clearly a bad idea. In fact, when he does deliver the letter, Saturninus takes one look at it and has the clown summarily hanged. He also has the arrows shot by Titus and figures this is some insult to his administration and Titus needs to be punished right now. Tamora intercedes and says she will take care of things. Just then, a messenger arrives to tell of Lucius arriving at the city gates with an army of Goths. Saturninus is worried for real now, because Lucius is popular with the people and the emperor cannot hope to rally his citizens to beat back the Goth horde. Tamora says she will kill two birds with one stone and sets up a meeting to deal with both Titus and Lucius.
Clearly, the last act is going to be a bloody confrontation between Tamora, Aaron, and Titus. I’m excited to see where it goes and if anybody has a chance to get out of this alive and unscathed. If I had to bet, it would be Young Lucius, who will undoubtedly carry the psychological burden of watching the rest of the Andronici die among the Goths. I suppose we will find out in the next installment of Hey Shakespeare!