Titus Andronicus was written around the year 1594, and there were hundreds of books being written annually about the differences between people of various races and religious. The purpose of Shakespeare writing this play is to demonstrate his friends that though he has not a degree, he gets by with classical literature. This looking for classical precedents is not just fordrama, but is thought one of the features of Shakespeare’s characters. Both Romans and Goths know ancient history, mythology and literature, and adapt their behavior to them. However, this learning does not make them better persons, but they do as much subtle outrageous as they can. A good example of this evidence is Aaron, a barbarian who not only knows these stories central to Roman culture,but is able to use and improve upon them, confirming his status as a devil that is dangerous because he possesses intimate knowledge of the human worlds.
Shakespeare appealed to the English population’s growing fascination with the ‘foreigner’ by incorporating different races of people within his plays, probably often shaping contemporary opinion about race for hisaudiences. In particular the development of a villainous outsider whose knowingness allows him to collude and joke with the audience begins for Shakespeare here in Titus Andronicus and feeds into the later creation of Edmund and Iago. Thus Aaron, for example, taking Titus’ hand with him, ostensibly to save the lives of his sons, knows throughout that he has no intention of saving them, jokes with theaudience as he goes out with the hand and revels in the pleasure of his own villainy.
There were few attempts to include a foreigner in a play, the first one is Titus Andronicus and the second one can be reflected on Othello’s character Iago, who looks like Aaron, and to whom he is often compared. In Titus, Aaron is a complex character who describes the stereotype of the evil Moor. At the same time,he challenges this model (which labels him as childish, lascivious and stupid) and also highlights inconsistencies in the Roman society. Using a Moor who seemingly represents the evils of ‘the outsider’ to Roman cultures, Shakespeare creates a character who calls into questions the values of a society built on patriarchy.
Aaron is unilaterally evil: he masterminds all of the murders that takeplace. Aaron even claims that he chooses evil proudly. He never dissociated himself from the evil stereotype: ‘I have done a thousand dreadful things /As willingly as one would kill a fly. /And nothing grieves me heartly indeed / But that I cannot do ten thousand more.
He is considered an archetypical villain, unrepentant of his actions, ready to die defiantly. But Aaron is more complex than hemight at first appear. Part of Aaron’s complexity as a character involves the way he challenges the stereotype of the Moor. Moors were thought to be sexually driven, but Aaron is not: he is the most sexually controlled adult in the play.
Aaron, however, becomes increasingly vocal and active and he repeatedly describes himself as a person whose blackness and villainy explain each other. For him-andfor most of the characters in this play- blackness is a moral quality. His exterior appearance indicates an inner propensity for evil and his inner being is reflected in his skin colour. ’Let fools do good, and fair men call for grace: Aaron will have his soul black like his face. Thus Aaron revels in the fact that he cannot be ‘washed white’: ’Coal black is better than another hue/ In that itscorns to bear another hue’. Whiteness is inferior to blackness because the latter will not register other colours, either through a blush, sunburn, or paint.
For every action that Aaron takes, there is a calculated reason behind it. Aaron is also resourceful: he is the only protagonist in the play with gold, he has friends whom he uses to his advantage. And Aaron has enough charisma to control...