Coriolanus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Coriolanus | Act 4, Scene 2 | Summary

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Summary

Brutus and Sicinius tell the aedile to tell the people their enemy is gone. Brutus says he and Sicinius should be humble now that their deed is done. Volumnia and Virgilia enter. Sicinius wants to leave. Volumnia chastises the two tribunes, telling them they are to blame for Coriolanus's exile and that he is far superior to them. Sicinius insults Volumnia by questioning her mental stability and by asking if she is "mankind." She says that yes, she's the daughter of a man—a far worthier one than Sicinius. Menenius enters and urges peace between all. He invites the two women to eat with him, but Volumnia says she feeds now only on her anger.

Analysis

The exchange between Sicinius and Volumnia emphasizes the marginalized (minority) status of women in public affairs. That Sicinius would speak the way he does to the mother of the man he just banished is demeaning to her and revealing of his hostile nature. And while she can defend herself with words, she is powerless to help her son, or to do anything about her anger other than "feeding" on it.

Volumnia again makes reference to Coriolanus's war wound as a testament to her worth and valor, setting her above the tribunes.

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