Rape, Mutilation, and Cannibalism — Shakespeare Style
“The barbarity of the spectacles, and the general massacre which are here exhibited, can scarcely be conceived tolerable to any audience.”
These are the words of Samuel Johnson, one of Shakespeare’s most brilliant admirers, regarding Shakespeare’s most infamous play, Titus Andronicus. Let us rundown the atrocities featured in the play: human sacrifice, filicide, a whole lot of murder, gang rape, dismemberment of the hands and slicing of the tongue, two accounts of beheading, and finally — the play’s pièce de résistance — cannibalism. One very interesting thing about staging (or filming) Titus Andronicus is how theater (or film) artists choose to translate Shakespeare’s violence into shocking and disturbing, yet still aesthetically appealing, ways.