Why isn't Coriolanus considered to be one of Shakespeare's "great tragedies"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is a question with no definitive answer, but here are some factors that may have contributed to Coriolanus not being considered as one of Shakespeare’s "great tragedies":

  • The play has few quotable lines or amusingly over-the-top passages. Its language is terse and much less poetic than Hamlet and others.
  • Coriolanus has no particularly effectual foe or foil.
  • Almost all of the action is centered on Coriolanus; he is either on stage (and the center of focus) or whoever is on stage is talking about him.
  • Coriolanus’s persistent egotism makes him less of a sympathetic character than the protagonists in the other tragedies. He ends up a very lonely, unfulfilled, unrepentant character. (Count the number of times the word alone appears in the play.)



See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial