Coriolanus Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How has Coriolanus's pride led to his banishment from Rome in Coriolanus?

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It is hard not to read or see this play and fail to be struck by the arrogance and pride of Corialanus. In particular, one central area where this is displayed is in his attitude towards the citizens that, ironically, he would be "serving" if he were elected. Corialanus, throughout the play, displays nothing except contempt for them, calling them variously curs, cowards, rogues and rats. He believes that only nobles are equipped to rule and believes that leadership should not be compassionate but should always show those ruled how strong and unyielding the rulers are, as is shown when he argues against the free distribution of corn. Ignorant citizens, according to him, have no right to be involved in governance, as it will only create instability.

In addition, however, what secures his banishment is the way that Corialanus is shown to be dominated by his temper. Of course, this is exploited by the tribunes, who deliberately goad him into one of his rages so that he speaks against them and the people, effectively assuring his exile. However, although this is used by his enemies against him, it is his arrogance and pride that are revealed through his rage, and his beliefs of his own superiority are central to his downfall.



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