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The Rape of Lucrece   By: (1564-1616)

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The Rape of Lucrece by William Shakespeare is a hauntingly poetic narrative that explores themes of power, violence, and the tragic consequences of lust. Set in ancient Rome, this tragedy is based on the legend of Lucretia, a virtuous woman whose life takes a devastating turn due to the actions of a corrupt prince.

One of the most striking aspects of this work is Shakespeare's masterful use of language. The poetry in The Rape of Lucrece is both eloquent and evocative, capturing the darkest corners of the human psyche. Shakespeare employs various poetic techniques, such as vivid imagery and skillful wordplay, to heighten the emotional intensity of the narrative. His carefully chosen words bring the characters and their inner turmoil to life, creating a vivid tableau of passion and despair.

The protagonist, Lucrece, emerges as a symbol of purity and virtue amidst a society tainted by power and debauchery. Shakespeare portrays her as an embodiment of feminine honor and integrity, making her tragic fate all the more heart-wrenching. Through her plight, the play explores the devastating consequences of unchecked desire and the brutal measures some would take to satisfy their lust for power.

The characterizations in this work are nuanced and deeply human. Lucrece's internal struggle, torn between her duty as a wife and her violation, is portrayed with empathy and sensitivity. Similarly, the antagonist, Tarquin, presents a complex portrait of a man consumed by his own desires and willing to stoop to the lowest depths to fulfill them. These multifaceted characters contribute to the play's exploration of the complexities of human nature and the tragic consequences of our actions.

At its core, The Rape of Lucrece is not simply a tale of rape; it is a damning indictment of a society that perpetuates violence and lets the powerful go unpunished. Through this lens, Shakespeare delves into uncomfortable truths about the abuse of power and the corrosive effects it has on individuals and society as a whole. The play raises profound questions about justice, morality, and the inherent contradictions that exist within human nature.

Though not as frequently performed or studied as some of Shakespeare's more well-known works, The Rape of Lucrece deserves recognition for its thought-provoking exploration of timeless themes and its exquisite use of language. This tragedy serves as a poignant reminder of the power of literature to shed light on the darkest corners of human existence and to ignite conversations about the pressing issues that continue to plague our society.

First Page:


by William Shakespeare




THE love I dedicate to your lordship is without end; whereof this pamphlet, without beginning, is but a superfluous moiety. The warrant I have of your honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutored lines, makes it assured of acceptance. What I have done is yours; what I have to do is yours; being part in all I have, devoted yours. Were my worth greater, my duty would show greater; meantime, as it is, it is bound to your lordship, to whom I wish long life, still lengthened with all happiness.

Your lordship's in all duty, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

LUCIUS TARQUINIUS, for his excessive pride surnamed Superbus, after he had caused his own father in law Servius Tullius to be cruelly murdered, and, contrary to the Roman laws and customs, not requiring or staying for the people's suffrages, had possessed himself of the kingdom, went, accompanied with his sons and other noblemen of Rome, to besiege Ardea. During which siege the principal men of the army meeting one evening at the tent of Sextus Tarquinius, the king's son, in their discourses after supper every one commended the virtues of his own wife; among whom Collatinus extolled the incomparable chastity of his wife Lucretia... Continue reading book >>

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