Coriolanus Conclusion

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Coriolanus remains an anomaly among Shakespeare's tragedies. Commentators tend to agree that the source of the play's unique status is the principal character himself, whose arrogance, class pride, and violent behavior seriously undermine his role as a tragic hero. Furthermore, the irony and paradox in Shakespeare's treatment of Coriolanus have additionally limited audiences' sympathy for his downfall. For most scholars these perplexing elements of the tragedy are clear indicators that Coriolanus defies conclusive appraisals and escapes final and definitive analysis. Indeed, if it is the true mark of Shakespeare's genius that his works consistently resist definition, then perhaps this elusive tragedy may be, as T. S. Eliot declared, "Shakespeare's most assured artistic success."

(See also Shakespearean Criticism, Vols. 9, 17, and 30)

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Coriolanus from Shakespeare for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.