Coriolanus (Vol. 64)
For further information on the critical and stage history of Coriolanus, see SC, Volumes 9, 17, 30, and 50.
Not well-known and infrequently performed, Coriolanus is considered Shakespeare's farewell to the tragic genre, and is often viewed as a disappointing departure. In this most political of plays, the warrior-hero Coriolanus is noted for his personal integrity, his military ambition and devotion to Rome's martial reputation, and his disdain for the Roman plebeians. In assessing the play's nonsuccess as tragedy, many critics point to Coriolanus's shortcomings as a tragic hero. Some commentators suggest that his attitudes and ambitions are such that he deserves his fate—murder at the hands of his lifelong enemy and rival Aufidius. Other examinations of character focus on Coriolanus's relationship to his mother, Volumnia, who successfully pleads with her son to spare Rome, even at the cost of his own life. The conflicted relationship between the ruling class in Rome and the city's plebeians is often compared to the political situation in Shakespeare's own time, when landless and poor workers violently protested their growing economic disenfranchisement. Like the play's plebeians, whose major complaint is hunger, the laboring class participating in the Midlands Insurrection of 1607 feared starvation as a result of being economically disempowered. The extent to which the play’s language and imagery address such political issues is also a focus of critical analyses.
In addressing questions surrounding the genre of the play, Richard C. Crowley (1974) demonstrates the way in which Coriolanus relies on the epic form as well as the dramatic genre of tragedy. The critic examines a study of sixteenth-century literary theory and suggests that the practice of melding elements of drama and epic was not unheard of. Furthermore, Crowley explores the ways in which the play's imagery supports the comparison of Coriolanus to epic heroes, and argues that the nature of the conflict between love and honor further supports the play's epic qualities. Paul Dean (1991) highlights what he argues are the truly tragic elements of the play, stressing that the tragedy lies in the fact that the political forces at work in the play cannot be extracted from the very human characters who must manage and direct these forces. According to the critic, Coriolanus's emotions and his political awareness are permanently intertwined. Like Dean, Robin Headlam Wells (2000) does not question Coriolanus's tragic nature, commenting that like the rest of Shakespeare's tragic heroes Coriolanus serves as a warning of the “seductive charm of the charismatic hero.” Wells additionally comments on the parallel relationship between the play's treatment of such issues as heroism, chivalry, war and peace, and the views of Jacobean England on these topics.
Coriolanus's character and motivation serve as the subject of a variety of critical analyses. Robert N. Watson (1984) touches upon the psychology at work in the play, commenting upon the oedipal implications of Coriolanus's relationship with his mother, and on the play's suggestion that the Roman citizens fill the place of Coriolanus's absent father. Watson focuses in particular on the transformation of Coriolanus's ambition from the attainment of his “familial identity” to a doomed defiance of this identity. In an effort to explain the lack of sympathy for Coriolanus that the play inspires, Pradip K. Datta (1994) comments that in the absence of a full-length soliloquy there is little insight into Coriolanus's thinking. The paradox at the heart of Coriolanus's character, argues Datta, is the warrior's loathing of, and effort to accept, the political pragmatism practiced by the Roman elite. Returning to Volumnia and Coriolanus's relationship with her, Christina Luckyj (1991) reviews the critical opinions expressed about Coriolanus's mother, noting that Volumnia is accused of failing to nurture her son, and is often blamed for Coriolanus's masculine aggression and for his eventual murder by the Volscians. The critic, however, finds that Shakespeare presents Volumnia's motivation as both “complex and open-ended.” In defense of Volumnia, Luckyj argues that Coriolanus's death should be blamed on politics, not on his mother.
The military grandeur presented in Coriolanus often leads to spectacular productions, while directors attempt to elicit a strong reaction to Coriolanus's character. Miranda Johnson-Haddad (1992) commends director William Gaskill on his decision to stage a deliberately minimalistic production of the play, but comments that the production lacked a strong main cast, as well as a unified vision for the play. In his review of David Thacker's production, Russell Jackson (1995) discusses the way in which the atmosphere of the French Revolution was evoked but not historically specified. Additionally, Jackson comments that some of the liberties Thacker took with the text were effectively staged. William T. Liston (1997) offers a favorable review of Tony Taccone's 1996 production of Coriolanus, which is set in a feudalistic future. Robert Shore (2000) approves of Jonathan Kent's staging of the play, starring Ralph Fiennes in the title role, praising in particular the psychological treatment of the characters. The critic also comments on the production's effective handling of costuming and the staging of battle scenes. In Kent's decision to ignore the issue of class conflict, Shore finds that the play “emerges whole, and very nearly a great play.” In another review of Kent's production, Peter J. Smith applauds the efforts of the principal actors, except for Ralph Fiennes's portrayal of Coriolanus. For Smith, the production as a whole was unable to dramatize “a performative equivalent for martial superiority.”
Coriolanus's language and imagery are heavily charged with political implications, and also yield insights regarding characterization. Jean MacIntyre (1984) explores the significance of the language and imagery in the play pertaining to clothing, examining as well the staging and costuming directions. This visual language and the images it evokes aid in the audience's understanding of the play's characters, MacIntyre argues, discussing, for example, the social importance attached to the various types and fabrics of head garments worn and referred to in the play. Zvi Jagendorf (1990) is concerned with the political dialogue related to wholeness and fragmentation found in Coriolanus. Discourses in which the body is referred to are prevalent in the play, Jagendorf observes, and finds that the aristocratic class is associated with wholeness and fullness, compared to the fragmentation and emptiness which characterizes references to the Roman citizenry. Analyzing one element of the play's imagery, Janet Adelman (see Further Reading) asserts that the play's central, defining image is that of a mother who has not properly nourished her children. According to the critic, Volumnia and Rome are associated with the maternal image, whereas Coriolanus and Rome's citizens represent the children. Furthermore, Adelman contends that Coriolanus's sense of self arises from his being able to view himself as self-sufficient, and his masculinity is dependent on warfare. In an analysis of the play's treatment of political representation, Tetsuya Motohashi (see Further Reading) observes, like Adelman, that Coriolanus possesses a strict ideology of self-sufficiency. This ideology, Motohashi demonstrates, stands in stark contrast to the requirement of others in the play on mutual dependency and exchange.
Criticism: Overviews And General Studies
SOURCE: “Coriolanus and the Epic Genre,” in Shakespeare's Late Plays: In Honor of Charles Crow, edited by Richard C. Tobias and Paul G. Zolbrod, Ohio University Press, 1974, pp. 114-30.
[In the essay below, Crowley contends that in Coriolanus Shakespeare was working within the framework of a mixed genre—an amalgamation of tragic and epic form.]
Coriolanus has not been the object of a great deal of critical commentary.1 Furthermore, what little criticism it has elicited in recent years has often been hostile toward the work, denigrating the play on the ground that it is not another Hamlet or Macbeth.2 Caius Marcius himself has come in for a great deal of unfavorable appraisal—he is neither imaginative enough, nor sympathetic enough, nor “grand” enough to qualify as tragic hero. Maurice Charney, for example, typifies the tone of many commentaries:
Coriolanus himself is the least inward of Shakespeare's tragic protagonists, he is literally isolated and uncomfortable in soliloquy, and he does not have a rich and pregnant consciousness of what is happening to him.3
Similarly, D. J. Enright, in his essay, “Coriolanus: Tragedy or Debate?” takes a dim view of Marcius' qualities as tragic hero:
The first thing we notice is that...
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SOURCE: “Tragic Superfluity in Coriolanus,” in ELH, Vol. 50, No. 3, Autumn, 1983, pp. 485-507.
[In the essay that follows, Holstun discusses the genre of Coriolanus, and considers the play’s relation to both tragedy and comedy.]
Shakespearean drama provides the history of ideas with no better exposition of the classical, medieval, and Renaissance metaphor of the body politic than Menenius' fable of the belly in the first scene of Coriolanus.1 It is quite possible to put oneself in the position in which Menenius would put the Roman plebeians, taking his organic analogy for a dramatic as well as a political exemplum, and to read Coriolanus as the tragic failure of the Roman state to live up to its own organic ideal. In The State in Shakespeare's Greek and Roman Plays, James E. Phillips, Jr. writes, “If … we take Menenius's speech on the belly as a key to the political structure and action of the play, we can see immediately that this is not the tragedy of a ruler alone or of a people alone, but a picture of the threatened disintegration of an institution including and yet superior to them both—the state.”2
Part of the problem with such an approach, which takes a dramatic excerpt as evidence of some Renaissance political deep structure, is that it tends to neglect the political context of Shakespeare's play. Phillips does...
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SOURCE: “Coriolanus—A Tragedy of Love,” in English: The Journal of the English Association, Vol. 40, No. 167, Summer, 1991, pp. 117-34.
[In the essay below, Dean examines the play’s politics, dismissing the ‘ideological’ approach and contending that Coriolanus is a “tragedy of thwarted love.”]
That the story of Coriolanus was known to Shakespeare at the outset of his career is proved by the allusion to it in Titus Andronicus IV.iv.68, which he probably derived from a reading of the 1579 edition of North's Plutarch.1 The whole strand of plot in Titus in which Lucius, banished from Rome, returns at the head of a hostile army, adumbrates the essential movement of the later play, though the moral issues at stake are not so complex. It is interesting to notice other incidental similarities, such as Titus's opening with an opposition between autocratic and popular power and its derogatory references to tribunes, Titus's deference to the ‘voices’ of the people in the imperial election (I.i.217), the use of ‘boy’ as a pejorative term (I.i.290, II.i.38, 45), the irony that the damage to Rome comes from one of her favourite sons, the concern to define Romanitas itself and the nightmare vision of the city as ‘a wilderness of tigers’ preying upon one another. Then, too, the spatial structure of Titus, with its dependence upon the...
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SOURCE: “‘Manhood and Chevalrie’: Coriolanus, Prince Henry, and the Chivalric Revival,” in Review of English Studies, Vol. 51, No. 203, August, 2000, pp. 395-422.
[In the following essay, Wells reviews the conflict between war and peace in ancient Rome as it is depicted in Coriolanus and examines how these conflicts parallel the political situation of Shakespeare’s own time.]
The Midlands corn riots of 1607, and the arguments in parliament three years earlier over the right of the House of Commons to initiate legislation, form a well-documented part of Coriolanus's political background. But there was another political issue that was being debated in the years immediately preceding the writing of the play. It is one that had international rather than purely domestic implications, and that may help to answer Bullough's question: ‘What led Shakespeare to write this play on a comparatively minor and early figure in Roman history?’ In the last few years of his short life the Prince of Wales was rapidly acquiring a reputation for aggressive militarism. By 1607 he had become a symbolic focus for the aspirations of militant Protestantism and was celebrated in poetry, masque, portraiture, and pamphlets as a future scourge of England's Continental enemies. Disturbed in 1608 by a pamphlet entitled ‘Arguments for War’ put together by a group of Henry's...
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Criticism: Character Studies
SOURCE: “Martial Ambition and the Family Romance in Coriolanus,” in Shakespeare and the Hazards of Ambition, Harvard University Press, 1984, pp. 142-221.
[In the following excerpt, Watson views Coriolanus's development in the play as a journey from his “natural self,” as a man with a questionable hereditary identity, to an “artificial self,”—an ideal, even divine, warrior.]
Coriolanus aspires to replace his limited hereditary identity with an ideal martial one, to transform himself from a merely human creature, made of flesh, appetite, and compassion, into a virtually divine warrior, made of steel, honor, and wrath. The story of Coriolanus' journey from a natural to an artificial self has epic attributes. It begins in medias res; it implicitly involves the hero's temporary death, his visitation by a spirit from the underworld who informs his quest, and his battle with the gods; and from one viewpoint it becomes, like the Virgilian epic, a story of national reconsecration. The end of the journey marks the salvation of the Roman people and the maturation of Roman democracy. But Coriolanus is trapped in a genre, as well as a city, whose ethos he can neither understand nor accommodate; he naively awaits the unambiguous endorsement of his heroic exertions that the complex world of Shakespearean tragedy, like the complex world of Rome, refuses to provide. He mistakenly supposes that...
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SOURCE: “Characterizing Coriolanus,” in Acting and Action in Shakespearean Tragedy, Princeton University Press, 1985, pp. 140-68.
[In the essay that follows, Goldman examines the unique way in which Coriolanus is discussed by the other characters in the play, noting that the other characters experience great difficulty in characterizing him.]
Any discussion of acting is inevitably a discussion of characterization, and studies of Shakespearean tragedy, whatever their approach, inevitably concern themselves with Shakespeare's characters and how we are meant to take them. Though we may feel, for example, that we know Antony or Cleopatra rather differently from the way we know Macbeth, nevertheless we do feel we know them. And when we discuss them, we find ourselves talking about their characters as we talk about people we know in real life—though most of us will adopt a stern tone from time to time and point out that there is a difference between character in real life and character in drama. In fact, there may be less difference, or at least a different difference, than we think—for on what, finally, do we base our confidence that real people have characters and that we are capable of describing them?
This is the trouble with characterization as a critical topic: we think we know what character is—or rather we think we know where it is and what...
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SOURCE: “Volumnia's Silence,” in Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, Vol. 31, No. 2, Spring, 1991, pp. 327-42.
[In the following essay, Luckyj reviews the ways in which Volumnia's silence following her successful plea to Coriolanus to spare Rome has been interpreted. Noting that Volumnia's character is often viewed in extremes (her silence is alternately interpreted as triumphant or devastated, for example), Luckyj argues that Shakespeare provides enough evidence to suggest that Volumnia's motivation is “complex and open-ended.”]
Volumnia's last appearance in Shakespeare's Coriolanus is a brief and silent one. She has just pleaded successfully with her son to spare his native city from intended destruction; her plea, we know, must result in his death at the hands of the Volscians, whose cause he has betrayed. She passes wordlessly over the stage in the company of Virgilia and Valeria as a Roman senator hails her as “our patroness, the life of Rome” (V.v.1).1 Academic critics take the senator's word for it; they usually see her as “the one triumphant figure that survives the play, the savior of Rome,”2 and insist that she is not “given a moment of reflection or of recognition that [she has] caused Martius' death. … Coriolanus' new acknowledgement of the power of tenderness and family bonds does not change the grim world of the play; it does not even...
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SOURCE: “The Paradox of Greatness and the Limits of Pragmatism in Shakespeare's Coriolanus,” in CLA Journal, Vol. 38, No. 1, September, 1994, pp. 97-107.
[In the essay that follows, Datta states that the central dilemma faced by Coriolanus is his disgust for, and battle to come to terms with, the pragmatism practiced by Rome's leaders and his admirers.]
Coriolanus is the only Shakespearean tragic hero who has failed to evoke ungrudging critical sympathy. Some critics even refuse to recognize him as a tragic hero. The critical apathy stems partly from Shakespeare's unflattering portrayal of a ruthless hero in whom virtues and vices are not easily distinguishable. Shakespeare's portrayal of all the characters with complete detachment also adds to the confusion of the critics. Most critics emphasize the central paradox of Coriolanus' character: the military hero with an undying constancy and an absolute sense of honor turns traitor to his country.1 The fact that Shakespeare has not given Coriolanus a full-length soliloquy, that valuable self-revealing device, appears to make the hero's inner self look as impenetrable as his coat of arms. For example, Stanley McKenzie observes that “Coriolanus' very function as tragic hero is unclear; although the focal point of the play and the constant subject of other characters' conversation, he is the least introspective of Shakespeare's major...
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Criticism: Production Reviews
SOURCE: “The Shakespeare Theatre, 1991-92,” in Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 4, Winter, 1992, pp. 455-72.
[In the following excerpt, Johnson-Haddad praises director William Gaskill's effort to stage a minimalist Coriolanus, but adds that the production suffered from a weak cast and the absence of a unified vision.]
Halfway through the 1991-92 season, The Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger dropped the second half of its name to become simply “The Shakespeare Theatre,” for the company shifted quarters to the newly renovated Lansburgh Building in downtown Washington. While some felt a twinge of regret at seeing the company leave the charmingly impractical “Elizabethan” theater space it had occupied for many years at the Folger Shakespeare Library, there is no doubt that the move was long overdue and that the new facility at the Lansburgh is an improvement that will benefit crew, cast, and audiences alike. (I shall describe the new theater in greater detail when I discuss the productions of Much Ado and Measure for Measure.) Thus, Coriolanus was the last production of a Shakespeare play that the company performed in its original theater space. (The final presentation was this season's non-Shakespeare play, a highly successful interpretation of Shaw's Saint Joan.) I wish I could report that the company went out in a blaze of glory with a fully realized...
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SOURCE: “Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon, 1994-95,” in Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 46, No. 3, Autumn, 1995, pp. 340-57.
[In the following excerpt, Jackson comments on the French Revolutionary setting of David Thacker's production of Coriolanus, and states that the liberties Thacker took with the text were effective.]
If only on a compare-and-contrast basis, Coriolanus made a good stablemate for Henry V, and the Swan Theatre served this Roman play well. The debate scenes benefited from the intimacy of the thrust stage and galleried auditorium, while the space was sufficient to accommodate the battle in the first act or to emphasize the isolation of Caius Martius as he stood in his gown of humility waiting for “voices.” In this theater the audience could be appealed to as though they were the Roman public, and the director capitalized on this by placing the plebeians around the auditorium, making us complicit in the decisions taken, as it were, on our behalf.
David Thacker's production, with designs by Fran Thompson, set the play in a period that combined French Revolution and Empire. The Napoleonic figure of Caius Martius (Toby Stephens) was first glimpsed at the back of the stage, scowling as grain poured from above into a pit at centerstage. The store was covered before the starving common people could get their hands on it. With this Thacker provided a...
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SOURCE: A review of Coriolanus, in Cahiers Élisabéthains, Vol. 51, April, 1997, pp. 81-2.
[In the review that follows, Liston offers a generally favorable assessment of Coriolanus, as directed by Tony Taccone. The production, notes Liston, is set in the feudalistic future and features an “eclectic” treatment of costuming and props.]
Director Tony Taccone set Coriolanus in ‘the imminently feudal future’ for the 1996 Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of the always politically relevant play, exploiting all the spatial resources of the large outdoor Elizabethan Theatre to suggest the disorder of the state. For the opening scene, soldiers in modern dress ran on, took grain sacks from a trapdoor, and then fled as citizens came on. Even those charged with keeping order violated their guardianship.
The whole building was employed. Scaffolding extending up a level dominated the stage and permitted action at several levels simultaneously. Moreover, Coriolanus exited at the end of the second act by climbing a ladder to the roof of the theatre, returning to open the final act by rappelling down the opposite side. Some of the action took place out in the audience as well. For instance, when Volumnia and Virgilia were visited by Valeria, two soldiers positioned in the audience fired their weapons toward the stage, though their target was not clear: they may have...
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SOURCE: “Masked Combat,” in Times Literary Supplement, No. 5074, June 30, 2000, p. 19.
[In the following review, Shore approves of Jonathan Kent's staging of Coriolanus, starring Ralph Fiennes in the title role, and praises the psychological treatment of the characters. Shore also finds that despite Kent's decision to ignore the issue of class conflict, the play “emerges whole, and very nearly a great play.”]
In the opening moments of the Almeida's production of Coriolanus, it is sometimes difficult to make out what the citizens gathered deep upstage are so upset about. In the hangar-like acoustic of the Gainsborough Studios, a number of early lines are lost—until, that is, Paul Moriarty as the First Citizen clears his throat to deliver his mocking indictment of Coriolanus' valour in battle: “'e did it to please 'is mother!” The effect might almost be deliberate. Though of all Shakespeare's works Coriolanus is the play most obviously concerned with questions of state power, in Jonathan Kent's staging the personal is constantly favoured above the overtly political. Of all the information conveyed in the opening debate, the key to what follows is not the just provision of corn, nor the enmity between plebs and patricians—the first matters raised by the citizens—but the fact that Coriolanus is a mother's boy.
In his programme note, the psychologist...
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SOURCE: A review of Coriolanus, in Cahiers Élisabéthains, Vol. 58, October, 2000, pp. 95-6.
[In the following review, Smith offers a negative assessment of Ralph Fiennes's Coriolanus, although the critic does praise the efforts of the other principal actors. Smith maintains that the play was unable to effectively dramatize Coriolanus's “martial superiority.”]
Gainsborough Studios started life as an electricity generating plant for the Metropolitan Railway. Subsequently converted into a film studio, it attracted the likes of Margaret Lockwood, James Mason, Phyllis Calvert and Stewart Granger. Most famously, Alfred Hitchcock used it to make The Lady Vanishes. It is now a makeshift theatre for five months during the staging here, in repertory, of the Almeida Theatre Company's Richard II and Coriolanus, both directed by Jonathan Kent and starring Ralph Fiennes in the title roles. The venue is scruffily impressive. A cavernous space is filled with makeshift seating constructed from scaffolding and planking. There is an end-on, raked stage of bare concrete (turfed for the production of Richard II) with an upstage wall consisting of naked brick, punched through with holes and showing various service cables and pipes. Different layers of peeling paint, asymmetrical broken windows, and bare metal stairs complete the effect of a building on the verge of demolition. A gash...
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SOURCE: “Words, Acts, and Things: Visual Language in Coriolanus,” in English Studies in Canada, Vol. 10, No. 1, March, 1984, pp. 1-10.
[In the essay below, MacIntyre explores the significance of the stage and costume directions in Coriolanus, discussing as well the language related to clothing in the play. The critic demonstrates the way in which these elements, in combination with the play's visual language, support the audience's understanding of the individual characters.]
Coriolanus is not performed as often as other plays of Shakespeare's maturity and often it is cut, and then costumed, without great heed to its explicit directions about clothes and the actions that go with them. Perhaps this is why its use of costumes, properties, and stage movement has not received much critical attention, nor has its extensive clothing vocabulary. Yet in Coriolanus Shakespeare prescribes costumes and properties meticulously, making them part of the play's action and expression and calling for more costume changes than is usual for him.1 The reader who ignores the costume directions and the clothing language, or the producer who cuts or alters them, deprives the play of important facts about characters and their deeds that come through dress and properties and the stage movement these require.
To be sure, Shakespeare's directions for costumes do not...
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SOURCE: “Coriolanus: Body Politic and Private Parts,” in Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 4, Winter, 1990, pp. 455-69.
[In the following essay, Jagendorf relates the play's rhetoric of war to the fractured nature of the political body in Coriolanus, showing that the aristocratic class is associated with wholeness and fullness, compared to the fragmentation and emptiness which characterizes references to the Roman citizenry.]
Political thinking and, consequently, writing about politics have traditionally made use of certain master tropes that remain constant in principle even when the nature and content of political discourse change. At the foundation of Western political thought, for instance, is the trope of the dialectical relationship between man in the state of nature (that is, man fending for himself and caring for the propagation of his species) and man in the domain of culture (that is, man in the embrace of community, of polis, of an organism that, ideally, is himself writ large, but that also dominates him, subjecting him to a necessity beyond the easily graspable one of his own needs and instincts).
Among the archetypal scenes of politics are those that reveal the reverberation between these poles of unity and fragmentation, wholeness and separation. Achilles sulking in his tent, the tribes of Israel retreating after the death of Solomon, the Roman...
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SOURCE: “Voiceless Bodies and Bodiless Voices: The Drama of Human Perception in Coriolanus,” in Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 2, Summer, 1992, pp. 170-85.
[In the essay that follows, Walker studies Coriolanus as a play focused on the battle between “body and speech.” Walker observes that in Coriolanus's derision for speech, a parallel hatred for time is revealed and contends that Coriolanus seeks to live in a single moment that transcends time.]
Critics have long been accustomed to reading Shakespeare's plays as though they were constructed out of speech. Since most scenes create their time and place in spoken text, it has been easy to locate the plays close to narrative poetry and to rely on critical techniques derived from the study of non-dramatic works. Under this strategy the theatrical essence of the plays is contained in the safe concession that these are texts for speaking, and that the essential activity of the audience, as the word suggests, is not to watch but to listen. In the theater, of course, voices must have bodies, but the oratorical tradition that prevailed through the nineteenth century often treated the body as a container of the voice, serving primarily to make the text present in the space of performance. Traces of this view remain in recent formulations such as that of Bert O. States: “The very thickness of Shakespeare's world is derived from the way...
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Adelman, Janet. “Escaping the Matrix: The Construction of Masculinity in Coriolanus.” In Shakespeare's Tragedies, edited by Susan Zimmerman, pp. 23-45. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Offers a psychological analysis of the play's image of a mother (Rome, Volumnia) who has not nourished her children (the Roman citizens, Coriolanus).
Bathryo, Dennis. “‘With Himself at War’: Shakespeare's Roman Hero and the Republican Tradition.” In Shakespeare's Political Pageant: Essays in Literature and Politics, edited by Joseph Alulis and Vickie Sullivan, pp. 237-61. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1996.
Demonstrates the way in which Shakespeare's treatment of Roman republicanism in Coriolanus and Julius Caesar reveals the playwright's skepticism regarding Rome's ability to both nurture the virtue of its citizenry and maintain its military regime at the same time.
Bligh, John. “The Mind of Coriolanus.” English Studies in Canada 13, No. 3 (September 1987): 256-70.
Studies the philosophical lessons of aristocratic idealism and amoral realism that Volumnia teaches to Coriolanus, who, after putting these lessons into practice, finds both philosophies lacking.
Bulman, James C. “Coriolanus and the Matter of Troy.” In...
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