How does Shakespeare portray the behaviour of men, regarding questions of power, relationship, and class?

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amandaeverett2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Are you looking at a specific play or in general? I see that you are referencing Coriolanus...

Typically, Shakespeare's men reflect the times in which they were written: the Renaissance. Romeo and Paris from Romeo and Juliet were well-educated, wealthy, handsome, accomplished sword-fighters and well-spoken, as any good Renaissance man would be. The same goes for the men in Much Ado About Nothing, A MidSummer Night's Dream and Julius Caesar. But these were typical noble men, and represented the ideals not only of the culture in which Shakespeare wrote, but also the ideals of the cultures of the settings of the play.

Also, Shakespeare wrote strong female characters, and men often listened to them, as Coriolanus did in this play. Shakespeare lived during a time of a female ruler who often visited his theater and was a great patron of the theater arts. He was not about to annoy his biggest contributor by writing weak, simpering, female characters.

Often, when the male characters ignore the female characters advice, the male characters cause destruction, violence, the death of the innocents. You'll notice that Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare's few male characters who listens to women's advice and lives and is able to make peace because of it. However, he does lose his own life because of betrayal. Macbeth listened to his wife, but she gave bad advice, and so he dies too.

Coriolanus doesn't seem to use his power unwisely, refusing to take bribes, or slander people to gain power. He does rely on his own pride though (the cause of his eventual downfall). He is also different from a Renaissance man in that he doesn't speak well for himself and nearly loses the political election. Like Cassius from Julius Caesar, Coriolanus finds how easy it is to manipulate the common people because of their lack of education. They are sheep, easily controlled by the right man, and Coriolanus is the right man.

asima98 | Student

thanks so much for the response helped a lot! i was particularly refering to the way in which Shakespeare portrays men's behaviour as a whole in Coriolanus and why so in relation to power, relationship and class

Thanks =)

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