Among other things, the play focuses around the conflict between the Andronicus family and Tamora’s Goth family; for this reason, children (although not necessarily youth) fill the scenes. However, not all the children present indicate a change in views that will bring about the positive future discussed above, the individuals that do include; Bassianus, Lucius, and young Lucuis. For the purpose of my argument, please note that Bassianus is deemed a ‘youth’ or ‘child’ due to him being younger than his brother Saturninus.
After the death of the Roman Emperor, Saturninus fights to become emperor. He does this not because he would be the better ruler for Rome but because he believes in the pre-established monarchy and his right to the throne as the eldest son. When he supposes that Titus is not going to support him he instantly shouts “Patricians, draw your swords, and sheathe them not/ Till Saturninus be Rome’s emperor” (I.i.208-9). On the other hand, Bassianus fights for a more democratic government and respects whatever decision will be made, as the best thing for Rome, confirming this with Titus by saying ““Andronicus, I do not flatter thee,/ But honor thee, and will do till I die” (I.i.215-6). As can be seen in the language, Saturninus is an instantly angry, unreasonably and self-interested person, whereas the younger Bassianus supports whatever is for the greater good of Rome’s inhabitants. Through Bassianus, Shakespeare is showing a more reasonable thought process held by the younger characters.
the proudest prisoner of the Goths,
That we may hew his limbs and on a pile
Ad manes fratrum sacrifice his flesh
Before this earthy prison of their bones.
Even during the narrative of the play we can see the maturing of Lucius’s understanding of the world; this provokes the audience into believing only good can from Lucius after the curtains close.
Traitors, away! He rests not in this tomb:
This monument five hundred years hath stood,
Which I have sumptuously re-edified.
Here none but soldiers and Rome’s servitors
Repose in fame; none basely slain in brawls.
Bury him where you can, he comes not here.
Titus wouldn’t even allow his own son to get a admirable burial due to a family disagreement but Lucius can put aside differences with an enemy to do the right thing. Through the father and son, Shakespeare is showing us a shift from unreasonable, fiery actions to more logical, moral decisions.
These positive changes in Lucius are also passed on to his son, Young Lucius. When Titus is wrapped up in terrible events that have fallen on his daughter, Young Lucius suggests “Good grandsire, leave these bitter deep laments./ Make my aunt merry with some pleasing tale” (III.ii.46-7). The Grandson is able to understand that Titus focusing on his own pain is not beneficial to helping the situation that has and his energy would be better put towards actually helping his daughter deal with her own pain.
In Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare contrasts the actions of the youth with those of the elders to show that the future of Rome is likely to take a positive turn and move from barbaric actions to a civilized way of solving problems. The words and actions of these figures of youth throughout the play symbolize this change when compared to the pre-established ideals of Rome we can see in the older characters.
The edition I read was ISBN: 978-0-14-071491-3.
Shakespeare, William. Titus Andronicus. Toronto: Penguin Pelican Shakespeare, 2000. Print.