Coriolanus Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Coriolanus book cover
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Compare and contrast the characters of Coriolanus and Menenius as well as their relationship with each other.

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In the play, Menenius Agrippa is a foil for Coriolanus. While Coriolanus is blunt and sometimes callous in his speech, Menenius is ever the smooth-talking, silver-tongued politician.

As an illustration, both men relate to the public in uniquely different ways. In Act 1, Scene 1, Menenius addresses the populace with consummate courtesy and grace. He addresses them as "good friends" and "honest neighbors." When he discovers that the citizens intend to revolt against their leaders, Menenius takes steps to calm the mob down. First, he assures them that the patricians' chief aim in life is to care for the people who rely on them. Then, he tells them a little story that appeals to their emotions (Menenius is, after all, a politician, and he is certainly well-versed in the art of rhetoric).

Basically, Menenius equates the patricians to the stomach in a body; its chief purpose, as the "store-house and the shop of the whole body," is to apportion the body's resources to the rest of the body. Contrast...

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