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Compare and Contrast: King Lear and Titus Andronicus

            If words don't hurt then why do they cause intensive pain? In Titus Andronicus and King Lear, words are seemingly lessened to nothing and bodies are degraded to unhappiness. In both plays, Shakespeare lessens language and bodies to their deepest levels. Characters fail to reach their full potential of their self as defined by social or domestic expectations unexpectedly due to the destruction forced on them by both their society and of their family. In Act I of Titus Andronicus, Lavinia is praised as "Rome's rich ornament" and Titus's "cordial of mine age to glad my heart"; she acts both as a social and domestic object of worth and comfort (1.1.52,166). Cordelia is equally shown, as Lear describes her as the most loved of his daughters and the court's happiness, "our joy" (1.1.123, 82). Both women are seen as daughters, caregivers, future wives, and mothers-society's most prized possessions. Yet societal and domestic expectations of Lavinia and Cordelia are tarnished when they both are subjected to wrongdoings from the political and physical views and wrongdoings. Both plays the female characters to a kind of spoken suppression, which I will argue, leads to suffering and ultimately to their deaths: Lavinia will be physically tortured and is killed by the hands of her own father (filicide), while Cordelia will be emotionally mistreated, cast out, and killed in an attempt to remove all power from King Lear and his favorite daughter. .
             In Titus Andronicus, Act I, scene I, Lavinia is seen in the role of a domestic daughter, and following, in her role as a social asset. Lavinia accepts Titus home from years at war by stooping at his feet and blessing him; Titus responds by first describing her as his sweet cure and blesses her in return by reminding her to "live, outlive thy father's days/And fame's eternal date, for virtue's praise" (1.1.167-8). Her worth to Andronicus is not necessarily within herself as an individual but as the role of the honorable, worthy daughter of the Roman general.

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