Coriolanus Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Did Coriolanus have a tragic flaw or was he flawed by upbringing?

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Renata Kelly eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Your question is essentially a "nature versus nurture" question, but Coriolanus's personality is more nuanced than the question suggests. What is his nature, after all, when his attitude varies depending on his audience? Who nurtured him, when he is surrounded by characters who all influence, and have influenced, his thinking and his choices?

He holds his friend Cominius, and his mentor, Menenius , in high esteem, and earlier in the play, he is willing to be guided by them. He loves his son ("my brave boy"), he adores his wife ("best of my flesh"), and he worships his mother ("the most noble mother of the world"). For their sake, he goes along with his election to the consulship, although he loathes politics. For their sake, he is willing to beg the forgiveness of the plebeians after insulting them all in the Senate. When he is banished from Rome, he says a sorrowful farewell to these five people. When his single-minded rage leads him to make war on Rome, these people—in particular, his...

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