An Analysis of the Common Theme of Physical Violence in A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies and Titus Andronicus

"A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies" depicts colonization and Europeanization of the American Indians by Spaniards. Euroamerican settlement of the West accelerated, the government abandoned gradualism in favor of comprehensive programs for assimilation. The savage, noble or ignoble, was judged capable of civilization. Those who embraced it would be welcomed into mainstream society. Those who balked would nevertheless be compelled to behave. In a short time, no more than a generation, the old ways would die out. The savage would disappear with the passing of the frontier. Instead of a geographical expression, the West became, in the imaginations of Americans stranded in the cities and towns, a wild region inhabited by even wilder humans, some white and brown, but most red. Casas depicts: "Guacanagari himself died up in the mountains, broken and destitute, after he had fled to escape the massacres and the cruelty inflicted by the Spaniards, and all the other local leaders who owed allegiance to Guacanagar perished " (20). The kind of historical criticism which has laid itself most open to attack has based its conclusions on limited data and unwarranted assumptions. thus it has been essentially unhistorical.
Shakespeare He shapes the character of Aaron as an independent force of evil, rather than as a mere agent of the queen. He introduces the parallel with Ovid’s tale of Philomela, and he adds the final triumph of justice and order with the return of Lucius to Rome, in spite of the inconsistency which this involves, for there is no reason for a Goth army to serve Lucius against their own queen. Shakespeare also makes of Marcus a virtual chorus to comment upon the action as the play unfolds. His most important innovation is in his conception of the principal characters and their relations to one another. Titus Andronicus is a commanding figure. He is a great and initially virtuous man, the first of Shakespeare’s heroic figures whose very virtues are the source of their sins. In many ways he is a forerunner of Coriolanus. Titus embodies all the ancient Roman virtues: ‘A nobler man, a braver warrior, / Lives not this day within the city walls’ (I.i.25-26). He has given his life and his sons unselfishly in the cause of his country. He might now be emperor, but he respects hereditary right and chooses Satuminus instead. He is stern and he is proud, the master of his family, the last of the ancient Romans.
In contrast to heroes themes presented by Shakespeare, A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies creates a negative image of the Spanish colonizers and cruelties committed by them against peaceful population. In their thoughts about the West and its original populations, Spanish colonizers variously imagined an Indian to be a noble savage, a rapacious killer, a reservation idler, the vanishing American, or a war-bonneted equestrian raider of the plains. The last image proved to be the most persuasive and, given Indian portrayals in motion pictures and television

You Might Also Like