Coriolanus Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Coriolanus book cover
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Why is Coriolanus a tragic character?

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Dolly Doyle eNotes educator | Certified Educator


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On the surface level, Coriolanus fits the criteria for a classic tragic hero: he is of noble birth, he is proud, this pride brings him low in the end.

Coriolanus is a fine soldier, steadfast and determined in battle. However, in the civilian world, he is out of touch, despising the common people and speaking against rule by "the rabble." His contempt for the lower classes is a great symptom of his hubris.

Coriolanus does not work well with other people and he is unwilling to compromise. His inflexibility makes him unfit as a political leader. In the end, he turns against Rome, the very thing he defended and risked his life for as a soldier. His inability to change or compromise leads to his betrayal of Rome and his eventual death. He goes from being a hero to being an outcast and betrayer.

Coriolanus also falls because he cannot play the political game. He won't budge an inch, he won't use tact when speaking.

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Noelle Matteson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Coriolanus is an excellent example of a tragic hero because his flaws bring about his...

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shaketeach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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