Coriolanus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Coriolanus | Act 3, Scene 3 | Summary

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Summary

Brutus begins the scene by telling Sicinius they need to remind Coriolanus that the spoils from the battle at Corioles were never shared with the people. Sicinius mentions the signed petition he holds from the people against Coriolanus. Sicinius tells an aedile to inform the people to echo his response regarding Coriolanus's fate, whether it be a fine, banishment, or death.

Coriolanus enters humbly with Menenius, who encourages the people to consider Coriolanus's wounds. But Coriolanus returns to downplaying the importance of his wounds. Menenius asks the people's pardon for Coriolanus's sometimes rough speech, saying it is simply part of his warrior's disposition. Against Menenius's advice, Coriolanus reverts to his criticism of the people and tribunes. Sicinius again urges for the death penalty, but Brutus says Coriolanus's service to the state should be considered. Sicinius then resolves that exile is the fitting punishment, and the plebeians shout their agreement. Before he exits with Cominius, Coriolanus calls the commoners "curs" and says there is a world elsewhere for him and he will turn his back on Rome.

Analysis

Coriolanus simply cannot veil his dislike of the Roman social system and the will of the people. His pride and arrogance continue to separate him from others. He has even disobeyed his mother's wish for him to concede to the expectations of the people in order to gain his powerful position as consul. By his words, the gains nearly made by his mother's advice are lost. Self-will and pride plant themselves firmly at the top of Coriolanus's priorities. Even Menenius's counsel is abandoned, further distancing Coriolanus from those whose advice he has heeded in the past.

The play is a revolving door of praise, criticism, reconciliation, and punishmentan interplay of kind words with insults. The theme of war is not as evident on the field of battle as it is in the Roman city, but it is present nonetheless. It is actually a civil war between Coriolanus and everyone else.

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