The Tragedy of Coriolanus - Wikisource, the free online library
In the main, the critical tendency has been to seat the unity of Coriolanus within the of [the protagonist's] difference from other men and of remoteness from them, . 9Aufidius teaches us that all forms of 'thought' in the fictitious world of the .. In a line that revisits the meaning of incorporate otherness, Volumnia relates the. Coriolanus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 8 References; 9 Further reading; 10 External links While Cominius takes his soldiers to meet Aufidius' army, Marcius leads a rally based on the "Life of Coriolanus" in Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's The Lives of the. Coriolanus and Aufidius see each other not only as rivals but as models for emulation, and there are hints of a quasi-homosexual relationship between them. suggest that the line can only have a symbolic meaning, that war.
It only stresses a shift in dynamics, as the play no longer grants the old demagogue the ability to sway collective otherness, but leaves Menenius to play the meagre role that he ironically repudiates: As Granville Barker argues: It is from this outward stance that I will now pursue this analysis of the staging of collective otherness in Coriolanus. A first exchange takes place between two individualised citizens.
For instance, it is not clear to what extent the farewell line: In order to identify and situate the choric function in Coriolanus, we need to consider each time not only who pronounces the lines, but also how these lines are spoken. The first and second citizens, who speak in turn, punctually incite the rest of the company to join in the debate on the hero and their current situation in the city.
These verbs are emphatically repeated. Yet their linguistic pattern seems more personalized. If such short sentences can only be aligned on the printed page, they need not be pronounced on stage in linear fashion. There follows a set of legal phrases, and to begin with: He initiates a dialogue on a critical mode that seems to parody the Greek parodos, an opening ode that celebrated a heroic character. He repeatedly denounces their inability to stand up and fight for their country.
SD1the people i. Indeed, it exacerbates the ambivalent nature of the chorus, as both a rowdy, disorderly crowd of civilians up in arms, and a group of organized, military men. As such, the word brings to mind two Attic tragedies: What is noteworthy is the migrating identity of the choric group from the citizens of Rome to a group of military men.
The play already anticipates the group of soldiers we will encounter in Act i, scene v. It is as if an irreverent inversion of the usual choric formula was taking place: See, they have shut him in. The ambivalent fictive identity of the chorus seems to be intricately embedded in the text. The choric group does not belong to one specific place in society but shifts from citizenship to the military, from an organised urban demonstration armed with legal phraseologies to a riotous, rural-like mob armed with staves and clubs.
This displacement in identity continues as we observe a set of adult male-citizens turn into a set of effeminate, puerile prattlers, a mutation in attributes that would suggest that the choric role escapes all rigid forms of embodiment. They only proceed to reopening a debate.
Very quickly, the focus shifts from action to eloquence, from eloquence to foolish chatter: Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.
The procrastination reaches a stage both frustrating for the citizens and farcical for the spectators. As we might have guessed by now, this latest attempt to act also miscarries.
Craik, Arden Shakespeare, second ser The Captain in Twelfth Night would argue: In fact, their collective voice recalls a more classical form of chorus, made up of a liminal community — feminine divinities, women sometimes slaves themselves and old men 56 — whose reeking breaths iii.
We note how, at various points in the play, the authority of collective wisdom runs the risk of losing all credit and being excluded from the tragic action altogether.
In Act iii, scene iii, Sicinius introduces his plebeian assistant, Aedile, to the art of choric rhetoric, in order to sway the crowds against Coriolanus.
All choral lyricism and ritual are utterly demystified: Despite the linguistic register of custom and law, Sicinius manages the crowd not as their representative spokesman but as a ringleader. Mark you this, people? In peril of precipitation From off the rock Tarpeian, never more To enter our Rome gates. It shall be so! It shall be so, it shall be so! All argument has by now been drowned in an echo of words from the vox populi. What we retain as we watch the dynamics of the individual and the collective unfold is the repugnant means by which the tribunes manipulate the people as well as the authoritative self-repositioning of the collective on stage, thanks to the tribunes.
Indeed, the choric utterances of the play are infused with inner contradictions.Tom Hiddleston / Rachel Weisz
One of the most marked features of Coriolanus is the large number of choric scenes in it. Two antithetical views of him are put forward and left unreconciled.
Even when this choric function is transferred to a single person, Aufidius, in iv. In the last analysis there is something mysterious about him; judgement is baffled. Men are either for him or against him, they cannot regard him with detachment or indifference.
Significantly, he does not assign the role of the chorus to a fixed set of characters and he considers the possibility of the role being transferred to a single character. He identifies a dynamics of alterity that motivates these choric utterances, each led by two parties that exchange opposing views on the hero. Most significantly, these exchanges always end on an aporia — in the opening scene, each citizen believes that the other is involved in a process of failing interpretation, and both challenge the other with competing visions of their hero and of events that could be valid or invalidating.
Machiavelli 's Discourses on Livy were available in manuscript translations, and could also have been used by Shakespeare. The earliest date for the play rests on the fact that Menenius's fable of the belly is derived from William Camden 's Remaines, published in One line may be inspired by George Chapman 's translation of the Iliad late Shakespeare himself had been charged and fined several times for hoarding food stocks to sell at inflated prices  For these reasons, R.
Parker suggests "late Parker acknowledges that the evidence is "scanty Elements of the text, such as the uncommonly detailed stage directions, lead some Shakespeare scholars to believe the text was prepared from a theatrical prompt book.
Analysis and criticism[ edit ] A. Bradley described this play as "built on the grand scale,"  like King Lear and Macbeth, but it differs from those two masterpieces in an important way.
The warrior Coriolanus is perhaps the most opaque of Shakespeare's tragic heroes, rarely pausing to soliloquise or reveal the motives behind his proud isolation from Roman society. Readers and playgoers have often found him an unsympathetic character, as his caustic pride is strangely, almost delicately balanced at times by a reluctance to be praised by his compatriots and an unwillingness to exploit and slander for political gain.
His dislike of being praised might be seen as an expression of his pride; all he cares about is his own self-image, whereas acceptance of praise might imply that his value is affected by others' opinion of him.
The play is less frequently produced than the other tragedies of the later period, and is not so universally regarded as great. Bradley, for instance, declined to number it among his famous four in the landmark critical work Shakespearean Tragedy. In his book Shakespeare's Language, Frank Kermode described Coriolanus as "probably the most fiercely and ingeniously planned and expressed of all the tragedies".
Eliot famously proclaimed Coriolanus superior to Hamlet in The Sacred Woodin which he calls the former play, along with Antony and Cleopatrathe Bard's greatest tragic achievement. Eliot wrote a two-part poem about Coriolanus, "Coriolan" an alternative spelling of Coriolanus ; he also alluded to Coriolanus in a passage from his own The Waste Land when he wrote, "Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus. Afterhowever, its themes made it a natural choice for times of political turmoil.
The Tragedy of Coriolanus
The first known performance was Nahum Tate 's bloody adaptation at Drury Lane. Seemingly undeterred by the earlier suppression of his Richard IITate offered a Coriolanus that was faithful to Shakespeare through four acts before becoming a Websterian bloodbath in the fifth act. The title and date indicate Dennis's intent, a vitriolic attack on the Jacobite 'Fifteen. Similar intentions motivated James Thomson 's version, though this bears only a very slight resemblance to Shakespeare's play.
‘O, me alone!’: Coriolanus in the Face of Collective Otherness
Its principal connection to Shakespeare is indirect; Thomas Sheridan 's production at Smock Alley used some passages of Thomson's. David Garrick returned to Shakespeare's text in a Drury Lane production.
In that production, he performed Coriolanus's death scene by dropping backwards from a high platform and being suspended upside-down without the aid of wires.
Director King Rich Warren placed the action in a fascist s setting that mirrored depression era America. Other notable features of the production centered on having the character of Coriolanus' mother Volumnia played much younger than usually portrayed and having the tribunes that drive Coriolanus' exile as social crusading women.
The production was well received by critics.
The play was directed by Angus Jackson. He intended to make it a tragedy of the workers, not the individual, and introduce the alienation effect ; his journal notes showing that he found many of his own effects already in the text, he considered staging the play with only minimal changes. The adaptation was unfinished at Brecht's death in ; it was completed by Manfred Wekwerth and Joachim Tenschert and staged in Frankfurt in It starred Alan Howard and was directed by Elijah Moshinsky.
In the Royal Shakespeare Company performed a new staging of Coriolanus, along with two other plays, at the University of Michigan. The director, David Farr, saw the play as depicting the modernization of an ancient ritualized culture, and drew on samurai influences to illustrate that view. The play is basically about the birth of democracy. Shakespeare pronunciation guides list both pronunciations as acceptable.