(Shakespeare for Students)

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Consider this:--he has been bred i' the wars
Since 'a could draw a sword, and is ill school'd
In bolted language
(III, i)

These words, spoken by Coriolanus' ally, Menenius, paint a good picture of the former. Coriolanus is a man of war, and not a man of words. He is ill-suited to be a politician, and this inability to show verbal skill or humility before the common people pave the way to his downfall.

If any think brave death outweighs bad life,
And that his country's dearer than himself;
Let him alone, or so many so minded, Wave thus, to express his disposition,
And follow Marcius.
(I, vi)

Coriolanus rallies his soldiers on the cusp of battle. On the battlefield he is commanding and confident, contrasted with civil situations, such as before Roman crowds, where his speech and actions are awkward.

You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air,--I banish you;
And here remain with your uncertainty!
(III, iii)

Coriolanus lashes at out Rome as he is expelled. His highly individualistic nature is evident here; his pride so great that he believes he does not need Rome, thus, in his mind he banishes Rome though it is Rome that banishes him.

I'll never
Be such a gosling to obey instinct; but stand,
As if a man were author of himself,
And knew no other kin.
(V, iii)

Coriolanus, upon seeing that his mother has come to try to persuade him to return to Rome, tries to steel himself against her sway. Here, though, his assertion of individuality fails -- his mother convinces him to abandon his plans to attack Rome. Thus, he cannot oppose instinct and the Roman blood that flows through his veins.

There's no man in the world
More bound to's mother; yet here he lets me prate
Like one i' the stocks. Thou hast...

(The entire section is 491 words.)