Coriolanus Essay

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Very few critical evaluations of Coriolanus have been able to set aside the significance of its complex, paradoxical protagonist. Michael Goldman, in assessing Shakespeare's method of characterization in the play, has summarized the problematic nature of Coriolanus: he possesses a conflicting blend of heroic and ironic qualities that serve the warrior well on the battlefield, but have disastrous effects within society. Gail Kern Paster shares the consensus view that Coriolanus is presented through contrasts with other characters in the play- primarily Volumnia and Aufidius- though she notes that these individuals also have many of the aristocratic qualities he possesses in the extreme.

Elmer Edgar Stoll has judged Coriolanus differently than most Shakespearean tragic heroes. He explained that typically the Shakespearean protagonist is forced by fate, circumstances, or a villain into acts that conflict with his own beliefs and thus lead to catastrophe. According to Stoll, these forces do...

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This section contains 8,135 words
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Coriolanus from Shakespeare for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.