Shakespeare - Coriolanus


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Shakespeare - Coriolanus

  1. 1. • Coriolanus (pronounced [korioˈlaˈnus]) is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608. • The play is largely based on the "Life of Coriolanus" as it is described in Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans (1579). • The wording of Menenius's speech about the body politic is derived from William Camden's Remains (1605).[2]
  2. 2. • Caius Martius, later surnamed Coriolanus • Menenius Agrippa, Senator of Rome • Cominius, Titus Lartius, generals • Volumnia, Coriolanus's domineering, ambitious mother • Virgilia, Coriolanus's wife • Young Martius, Coriolanus's son • Valeria, a lady of Rome • Sicinius Velutus, Junius Brutus, trib unes of Rome
  3. 3. • The play opens with riots in the streets of Rome. The people are being denied food after a lengthy war, and they blame a powerful general, Caius Martius (Coriolanus) for withholding it. • Despite Caius’s success in war, he has a contempt for the lower classes, even though the government is divided between the rich, aristocratic Senate and the elected Tribunes, who represent the people. • After a fierce battle with a Volscian army, Caius is recognized for his extraordinary bravery, and is urged by his ambitious mother to run for Consul.
  4. 4. • He effortlessly wins the support of the Roman Senate, and seems at first to have won over the commoners as well. • However, Brutus and Sicinius scheme to undo Coriolanus and whip up another riot in opposition to his becoming consul. • Faced with this opposition, Coriolanus flies into a rage and rails against the concept of popular rule. He compares allowing common people to have power over the elite to allowing "crows to peck the eagles". • The two tribunes condemn Coriolanus as a traitor for his words, and order him to be banished. Coriolanus retorts that it is he who banishes Rome from his presence.
  5. 5. • But once exiled, Coriolanus is rallied by the other senators, who join with him in leading an assault upon Rome, and overthrow its citizens. • Cominius and Menenius attempt to dissuade Coriolanus, but fail to appease him. Only when his mother, wife and son are brought before him and plead with him to stop is he finally entreated. • However, believing Coriolanus has betrayed his people, his is assassinated shortly after the peace treaty is signed.
  6. 6. • One of Shakespeare's final tragedies, Coriolanus cannot be considered one of his greatest plays, and it has never been one of his more popular. • It lacks depth, both metaphysical and psychological; though structurally sound, its characters are not multi- dimensional, and it lacks both the great poetic strength and the capacity to surprise that the best of the tragedies possess. • It is, nevertheless, a solid play, united in structure and theme--the playwright is very much in command of his characters, one feels, although this sense of control may actually weaken the play: The characters never seem able to escape the iron structure that the plot imposes.
  7. 7. • Coriolanus takes as its hero a man completely lacking in political gifts-- a stubborn soldier, brought down by an overweening pride and an inability to compromise with the forces that seek his downfall. • A representative of the patrician class of Rome, Coriolanus' prowess in battle would seem to make him an ideal hero for the masses; however, he utterly lacks the common touch, and his fear of popular rule allows him to be construed as an enemy of the people.
  8. 8. • He's a very dog to the commonalty. (1.1.30) • The kingly crownèd head, the vigilant eye, The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier, Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter. (1.1.122) • What's the matter, you dissentious rogues, That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, Make yourselves scabs? (1.1.171) • They threw their caps As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon, Shouting their emulation. (1.1.219) • Had I a dozen sons, each in my love alike and none less dear than thine and my good Marcius, I had rather eleven die nobly for their country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action. (1.3.24) • Nature teaches beasts to know their friends. (2.1.6) • What is the city but the people? (3.1.200) • His nature is too noble for the world: He would not flatter Neptune for his trident, Or Jove for ’s power to thunder. (3.1.321) • You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize As the dead carcases of unburied men That do corrupt my air,--I banish you. (3.3.119) • Would you have me False to my nature? Rather say I play The man I am. (3.2.14) • Like a dull actor now, I have forgot my part, and I am out, Even to a full disgrace. (5.3.40)
  9. 9. • There have been several notable adaptions of Coriolanus on TV and film: • A nine-part 1963 BBC miniseries called The Spread Of The Eagle • A 1965 television film of a production staged at the Chichester Festival starring Ian McKellan. • A 1979 New York stage adaption with Morgan Freeman as Coriolanus. • A 1984 TV Movie The Tragedy of Coriolanus • And most recently, a gory, R-rated adaption starring Ralph Fiennes.