Coriolanus Themes & Symbolism

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Politics and Society

One of the most prominent qualities of Coriolanus, and one scholars have commonly regarded as atypical of Shakespearean tragedy, is its emphasis on politics. In the dramatist's presentation of plebeians and patricians clashing in open debate over questions of authority and power, critics have identified an uncharacteristic preoccupation with public rather than private crises, with the social rather than the personal aspects of tragedy. The play's uniqueness in this respect has led many commentators to view it as a rare exposition of Shakespeare's own political views.

Various scenes in the drama reflect a preoccupation with social conflict, notably several involving Shakespeare's depiction of the Roman citizenry arising as an unruly mob; a portrayal that a few critics have asserted is characteristic of the dramatist's tendency to devalue the multitude of common men. More specifically, some critics have viewed the work as a declaration of Shakespeare's...

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This section contains 826 words
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Buy the Coriolanus Study Guide
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Coriolanus from Shakespeare for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.