Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
Page #: 339
Published in: 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Set in the earliest days of the Roman Republic, Coriolanus begins with the common people, or plebeians, in armed revolt against the patricians. The people win the right to be represented by tribunes. Meanwhile, there are foreign enemies near the gates of Rome.
The play explores one reason that Rome prevailed over such vulnerabilities: its reverence for family bonds. Coriolanus so esteems his mother, Volumnia, that he risks his life to win her approval. Even the value of family, however, is subordinate to loyalty to the Roman state. When the two obligations align, the combination is irresistible.
Coriolanus is so devoted to his family and to Rome that he finds the decision to grant the plebians representation intolerable. To him, it elevates plebeians to a status equal with his family and class, to Rome’s great disadvantage. He risks his political career to have the tribunate abolished—and is banished from Rome. Coriolanus then displays an apparently insatiable vengefulness against the state he idolized, opening a tragic divide within himself, pitting him against his mother and family, and threatening Rome’s very existence.
This is one of Shakespeare’s later, much lesser known tragedies. I really had no interest in reading this play at first, but it was either this or Henry V and I hate Henry V. What started out as grudging acceptance morphed into pure and unadulterated love for this ridiculous play.
The play features Coriolanus, a Roman soldier with some pretty serious mommy issues. After winning valor for himself fighting against the Volscian rebellion, he tries to get elected consul but some of the tribunes ruin everything for him. Coriolanus is one of the most selfish and childish man-child characters I have ever come across. Seriously, this play is so weird and over-the-top.
Coriolanus is probably one of Shakespeare’s gayest plays too. There’s some really blatant homoerotic dialogue between the two main characters. It’s one of those plays where you can’t help but laugh as things just spiral out of control.
I also watched a bunch of movie adaptations for the same project I read the play for, and the one with Tom Hiddleston is my favorite. That one really captures the humor that I see in the play. Seriously, I really love this play.
One of the only things I don’t like about this play is some of the characters. There are a couple of characters that really serve no function to the story, so it’s kind of pointless that they’re there. Otherwise, I would really recommend it.