Comparing the Use of Language in Titus Andronicus and Hamlet

2966 WordsJul 17, 201812 Pages
Comparing the Use of Language in Titus Andronicus and Hamlet As characters of high birth and important political positions, Titus and Hamlet are necessarily observed closely by those around them for their reaction to the tragic events that have taken in place in their lives; and it is primarily the unique language with which they express their grief and anger that disconcerts both their enemies and their friends, and keeps them under an exacting scrutiny for the duration of their eponymous plays. The other characters in Titus Andronicus and Hamlet interpret the language of these tragic heroes, the devices it employs, the lack of decorum it exhibits, as the symptom of madness. It is a language born out of suffering and crafted by…show more content…
Marcus criticizes his language for not expressing things which might happen or exist (as the New Cambridge edition glosses his response, "speak with possibility")( III.i.213). What differentiates Titus' speech from any other poetic speech employing apostrophe, hyperbole, simile, and metaphor, is rather than employing them to describe an external event or his own emotions, as Marcus does, Titus is, as it were, putting them into action. Marcus sets his metaphors in the present or the subjunctive, "O had the monster seen those lily hands/ Tremble like aspen leaves upon a lute...he would not then have touched them," and when he does phrase them in the future, or imperative tense ( "come, let us go and make thy father blind") he shows an interest in poetic intensification that stops short of actually executing, or even pretending that he intends to execute, the action or command to which he has metaphorically alluded (III.i.44-47) Titus is, as it were, acting his metaphors out. He speaks of breathing "the welkin dim" as an action he intends to carry out, and in a sense does through his daughter's and his own sighs and tears, and his apostrophe his transformed from linguistic ornament to poetic action, as he kneels down to call upon a "power". To Marcus, this extension of language to an extreme, to the point where it is indistinguishable from the reality that it symbolizes, is a form of madness. Marcus delivers a similar criticism of

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