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Coriolanus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Coriolanus | Character Analysis



Coriolanus suffers from an excess of pride and views himself as superior to the common man. Though he is fierce in battle, he lacks diplomacy and any interest in the plight of the commoners. His personality does not change in the play. He is as self-absorbed in the end upon his death as he is in the beginning. He admires strength and honor, and this may account for his admiration of his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius, with whom he later joins forces.


Menenius is an elderly Roman nobleman who has been a surrogate father to Coriolanus. He has a friendly, mild-mannered personality and continually tries to broker peace whenever possible. He is always quick to defend Coriolanus. He is deeply grieved by his dismissal by Coriolanus in Act 4 when he comes to him seeking peace with Rome and reminds Coriolanus of how much he loves him.


Volumnia is as prideful as her son Coriolanus. She is domineering yet lives for her son's success and honor. She continually boasts of his scars and sacrifices in combat. She undergoes an important change in the last act when she humbles herself publicly in front of her son. She shows more of the Roman virtues of sacrifice, humility, and love of Rome than her own son. She is also the key to saving Rome from Coriolanus's vengeance, and in the end she is lauded as being the savior of Rome.

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