Category Archives: The Rape of Lucrece

Open Links to Performances (Performance Badge)

As You Like It – 1936 film version

Helpful version as it contains subtitles for retention and comprehension of material not covered in class. A great comedy to pair with Twelfth Night, and resourceful for unpacking themes within the pastoral mode.

To Kill Myself – Rape of Lucrece 

Wonderfully artistic visioning from The Royal Shakespeare Company.

Act 3, Scene 2 – The Winter’s Tale 

Perhaps for me the standout example of a well spoken, educated, strong woman in all the texts covered this semester. A great reminder of our lectures covering the power and importance of words.

Romeo and Juliet – Onscreen footage

Everyone’s classic introduction to Shakespeare. I was reminded heavily of the play when reading The genres of Shakespeare’s plays, by Susan Snyder as she talks in depth about the reflection of youth in Shakespeare’s works. Characters become representations of the time period and a refection of society. This is set up immediately  in Romeo and Juliet’s prologue, “Two households, both alike in dignity|In fair Verona, where we lay our scene|From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,|where civil blood makes civil hands unclean” (1.Pro.1-3).

Act 5, Scene 3 – King Lear 

Continuing the consideration of genre, King Lear is a great example of ego and pride leading to a tragic end (which cannot be evaded). This is a very emotionally powerful clip displaying the effects of time within a tragedy.



Lucrece Paraphrase

Let us go back to Lucrece shall we?

As I was skimming through my full notebook for a blank page today in  class I came across some notes about Lucrece. There was a specific passage that I struggled with and decided to paraphrase/annotate. I decided to share my paraphrase with you in the chance any of you struggled with the  same lines.

The original lines are:

“‘O unseen shame, invisible disgrace!

O unfelt sore, crest-wounding, private scar!

Reproach is stamped in Collatinus’ face,

And Tarquin’s eye may read the mot afar:

How he in peace is wounded, not in war.

Alas, how many bear such shameful blows,

Which not themselves but he that gives them knows.

‘If, Collatine, thine honour lay in me,

From me by strong assault it is bereft:

My honour lost, and I, a drone-like bee,

Have no perfection of my summer left,

But robbed and ransacked by injurious theft.

In thy weak hive a wand’ring wasp hath crept,

And suck’d the honey which thy chaste bee kept.” (827-840).


My paraphrase:

Shame is not seen, disgrace is invisible!

The unsupported scar will ruin the family’s name!

Shame is clear on Collatine’s face,

Tarquin can see the shame on the family and Collatine.

Collatine was not injured in the war but by this.

How often do people feel as much shame as the guilty.

Collatine placed his honour in me:

But, by force it was stolen.

The chastity I was fighting so hard to protect is gone,

And now I am no longer pure.

An evil wasp crept into my ‘hive’ and stole my ‘honey’.


I thought it was quite interesting how Shakespeare used the symbolism of the wasp to represent Tarquin, the bee to represent Lucrece and the honey to represent Lucrece’s chastity and purity. After reading Troilus and Cressida I cannot help but notice how much weight Shakespeare’s characters place on others opinions. This is evident in Lucrece’s fear of shame for both herself and Collatine. It is also interesting to note Shakespeare’s extensive emphasis on the eye and what is visible on the outside (and public) versus internal emotions that are private.


Ashley Anderson



Shakespeare, William. “Lucrece.” The Oxford Shakespeare: Complete Sonnets and Poems. Ed. Colin Burrow. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 289. Print.

Using voyant on a section of Lucrece

I put a section of The Rape of Lucrece (lines 133-153) into voyant and what i found was that one of the most repeated words (excluding conjunctions) was “wealth”. There was also a couple uses of the word “gain”. In the context of this section in which Tarquin is reasoning with himself as to whether or not he ought to rape Lucrece, I found this repetition interesting. While wealth typically refers to material possessions and more specifically money, in this case it seems as though tarquin is seeing possession of Lucrece as a form of wealth. This shows us how lucrece, and more generally women, were seen not as people but as possessions. Tarquin wants lucrece not because of any of her qualities but because he wants to be more “wealthy” than his rivals.Screenshot (5)

Visual Art for ‘The Rape of Lucrece’


So I drew Lucrece after the rape because drawing her while she’s naive and happy would be too easy. The ribbon across her mouth represents how Tarquin silenced her and, ultimately, her life. She’s holding a red rose and a white lily to depict the omnipresent metaphor of virtue and beauty. However, the flowers have started to blacken and die similar to how the imagery of red and white is replaced with black after the rape.

(My next drawing will be of Tarquin represented by a piece of trash.)

This is for the “Genres and Mode Badge.”










My annotations for Lucrece. I like to keep it pretty simple so I don’t muddy the text too much (just a preference). The most effective method I employ is to quickly outline the main ideas (in modern english) of passages I find hard to understand. I also try to highlight important words to look up in the OED.

Rape of Lucrece

While reading and annotating Rape of Lucrece, I tried to view characters such as Lucrece in varying lights and try to understand  what drives them to make certain desperate decisions such as suicide. I decided to take a bit of a different approach and objectively analyze Lucrece.

The way Lucrece is treated  and labelled by men directly reflects what she deeply values the most about herself. Lucrece values her reputation and appearance greater than her own life and mind. She internalizes her given designations transcribed by men. In the poem Lucrece is heavily objectified by the ones closest to her and she is constantly compared to inanimate subjects and animals forcing her to internalize those characteristics. Lucrece is illustrated as  harmless animal such as “silly lamb” (line 168) to show that she is not perceived as an adult but rather as a naive child.  “Dove” (line 360), “bird” (line 457), “white hind” (line 543) and even “pray” (line 342) are also used indicating her fragile and harmless nature. Lucrece accepts all of these labels given by men and takes on those roles, describing herself as “poor unseasonable doe” (Line 581), “poor frightened deer” (line 1149) and “myself a weakling” (Line 584). This shows that her perception of herself directly affected by men. In a way, she struggles with herself and resents her internalized weakness ascribed by others. For instance, she immediately regrets for not being able to physically fight during the rape : “And wast afread to scratch her wicked foe, Kill both thyself and her for yielding so” (line 1035-1036)

There is also an interesting correlation between having a beautiful body and being virtuous.   Lucrece was described as “as bright as heaven’s beauty” (line 13), “earthly saint” (line 84) suggesting that somehow individual’s virtue and purity is coupled with outward appearance. Few times, descriptions of her beautiful bodily appearance is associated with having an innocent and unspoiled mind that of a saint and heaven. In a sense, her body image reflects her mind and soul. To demonstrate this, Shakespeare also mentions: “Within his thought her heavenly image sits” (line 288), “Hath barred him from the blessed thing he sought” (line 340) also supporting the idea of her body image being intertwined with her divine soul, and emphasizing her virtue, innocence and unspoiled mind. Lucrece accepts these elevated roles. She indirectly implies her pure state by mentioning: “stain so pure a bed” (Line 684) and calling herself a “The silver-shining queen he would distain”  (Line 786).

Other times, she was equivalent to man-made objects “virtuous monument” (line 391) and “Her breasts, like ivory globes” (407). Once again, she internalizes objectifications and says :”To fill with worm-holes stately monuments” (Line 946). As illustrated by the quote, she is obliquely calling herself “stately monument”, viewing herself as an elevated and majestic man made object, created to be displayed and valued due to its appearance.   The fact that she describes herself as a possession and an object created to be admired for appearance further supports the idea of her dependancy on reputation/appearance. As a result, this constant coupling of  “pure body” with “pure mind” intensifies the pressure to remain untouched to keep  an elevated reputation in the society.

As a matter of fact, Lucrece’s sense of identity is so strongly intertwined with her body that she would rather commit an unspeakable sin of suiciding with a better reputation than live on with a ruined image in the society. “But she has lost a dearer thing than life” (line 687), “To live or die, which of the twain were better When life is shamed and death reproach’s debtor” (line 1154-1155). Another interesting incidence that stands out is when one of the servants showed up to deliver Lucrece’s letter to her husband. Interestingly and oddly Lucrece was more preoccupied with thought of servant knowing about last night’s act rather than being devastated by the rape and violence. She was more worried about people finding it out and destroying her reputation as an individual with “Immaculate and spotless is my mind” (line 1656).  “Imagine every eye beholds their blame; For Lucrece thought he blush’d to see her shame:” (lines 1343-1344) and “The more she thought he spied in her some blemish.” (line 1358) demonstrate her concern of the servant exposing her “blemish” or in other words rape rather than being emotionally preoccupied with her traumatizing experience. Lucrece’s egoistic act of suicide reflects that she values her reputation in the society far greater than her children, husband, father and even herself. This shows that one of her deepest values in life is fame. The fact that she is willing to leave  behind without even worrying or mentioning  well being of those closest to her, shows that Lucrece is more concerned with honour and shame of rape that will destroy her reputation.  Ironically, importance of her reputation is most obvious when Lucrece  lusts for bloody revenge, seeking blood and death to redeem her prestige as pure and virtuous individual:

“Mine honour I’ll bequeath unto the knife

That wounds my body so dishonoured.

‘Tis honour to deprive dishonour’s life;” (Lines 1184-1186)

“For in my death I murder shameful scorn:

My shame so dead, mine honour is new-born” (Lines 1189-1190)

I hope you guys enjoyed my quick analysis! Any comments/ideas/arguments/evidences against my take on Lucrece are greatly appreciated 😀

Quick note: the reason I thought she might have children is because Tarquin said : “Then, for thy husband and thy children’s sake ” (line 534)


Annotation for the Technology-Challenged

So the badge points are supposed to be rewarded for “posting pictures” of annotated pages. Sounds easy, but since the only piece of tech I own (my Ipod) takes awful pictures, I knew there was no point posting them. Nobody needs to see my dark, blurry photos of a book with scribbles on it. Not that I’m writing in my book. It’s not mine, it’s my mom’s, and I think she’d kill me if I wrote in her book.

Anyhow, I annotated five pages of “The Rape of Lucrece” in a Word Document and attached it to this post. If ya’ll want to see my note-taking devolve into potshots at Tarquin, go ahead and read.

Annotated Lucrece     <— Thar she rants!


Meaghan K

My book is turning into a rainbow…

The first time I annotated Shakespeare was in high school, where I annotated individual scripts line by line into modern language.  The latter method allowed for easier reading and a connection of humor  to the tragedy I was required to analyze.  Translating line by line is easier said than done when it comes to The Rape of Lucrece.

Like much of Shakespeare’s work, Lucrece is  first and foremost a tragedy.  Containing violence, political intrigue, and internal conflict to rival even the most intense of television dramas (Game of Thrones comes to mind), it is – in my opinion, at least – the saddest of Shakespeare’s works.  I cannot state that as explicit fact, as I have not read every single one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, but it is quite possibly the most bloody depressing piece of literature I have read thus far.

Because my literary tastes tend to deviate away from the horribly sad, I was quite sure this poem was going to be difficult to get through.  However, by setting up an extensive system of annotation, I am able to get through it and comprehend a majority of what is going on.  There was that instance with Tarquin and the glove that went right over my head, but that was incredibly odd and I won’t get into that at the moment.

Like at least a couple people in this course, I do not enjoy writing in books.  To do so is a direct threat on my perfectionist desire to have every volume in my house look like it was just picked up from  Indigo.   However, I decided that because it was Shakespeare, and because it was for school, I could throw myself on the grenade and write in a book.  In coloured pen.  *gasp*

My annotations thus far make my book look like it has snatched little pieces off of rainbows.  I colour code my margin notes, with employ orange for literary tropes, black for repetitive themes or symbols, purple for allusions to history or mythology, blue for plot, and pink for the moments I am feeling particularly punchy and/or sarcastic, which is – unfortunately – frequently.  I’ve read the entire poem, but as far as I have annotated there are many symbols related to colour, siege, and birds.  The appearance of bird symbolism in this poem was fairly unexpected, and though it will require further analysis, I believe it may be related to the Greek myth of Philomena, who was similarly ruined by a man she thought she could trust.

And so it begins...
And so it begins…


The war and siege metaphors started showing up very early on
The war and siege metaphors started showing up very early on


My writing starts to get messier...
My writing starts to get messier…


I had to analyze a number of pages of Tarquin's monologues.  He was an indecisive character for a while there.
I had to analyze a number of pages of Tarquin’s monologues. He was an indecisive character for a while there.
One for all, or all for one... *insert Three Musketeers joke here*
One for all, or all for one… *insert Three Musketeers joke here*