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Coriolanus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Coriolanus | Act 4, Scene 4 | Summary



Coriolanus enters Antium disguised, and briefly addresses the city, saying he has been responsible for killing its men in battle. He sees a citizen who directs him to Aufidius's house. Coriolanus gives a soliloquy (a solitary sharing of his thoughts) about how he and Aufidius will become united and how Coriolanus will now love the enemy town.


Twice in this brief scene, Coriolanus talks in isolation, speaking to the audience alone. This is the first instance of the use of soliloquy in the play. It is important since there is no social posturing on Coriolanus's part. He is declaring his sincere desire to join forces with this previous enemy. This scene also acts as a transition since it implies Coriolanus's feelings toward Aufidius are mixed, not just focused on hatred and vengeance. His feelings could lead to an alliance.

Also, this scene and Scene 5 are the only ones in which Coriolanus appears incognito. In order for him to reveal his true nature and underlying feelings for Aufidius, he must not initially appear as himself. Shakespeare often uses disguise as a device for characters to express feelings that might not otherwise be accepted—most frequently in comedies such as As You Like It and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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