I. Coriolanus

A. Lecture notes

1. Caution that BBC is heavily cut

2. Transition from Hamlet and introduction

a. Stage of life: same as Hamlet--middle age identity crisis; the breaches successfully negotiated in comedy and history from youth to adulthood, here fail. Inability to adjust to the conflicting demands, compromises, and uncertainties of maintaining the world. Eriksonian idea of mid-life crisis; the polarities of mid-life success and failure

i. after the lover, " then a soldier Full of strange oaths/ bearded like the pard jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon's mouth./ And then the justice in fair round belly with good capon lined /With eyes severe and beard of formal cut /Full of wise saws and modern instances And so he plays his part.

ii. successful ruler of commonwealth; substantial middle age; passage from soldier to magistrate;

(1). Henry Fifth does it.

(a). Hamlet can't be Fortinbras; ready to blow it off in the cannon's mouth; too deliberative; full of wise saws and modern instances;

(b). Coriolanus cant be justice with full belly lined; like his mother, "Anger's my meat" vs. the belly of Menenius' speech--mother tells him so in Act III-you might have been enough the man you are/With striving less to be so" 133; making peace kills him

iii. Coriolanus also can't act; can't memorize his lines,

(1). also like Hamlet, who knows not seems; has such problems playing his role in concert with the players

(2). You have put me to such a part which never I shall discharge to th' life 136

(3). Like a dull actor now I have forgot my part and I am out even to a full disgrace 182

b. another tragedy--same say its a comedy, some a satire, others a history--but what does it have in common with Hamlet and what makes it tragic

i. Social status and high seriousness of setting and characters

(1). intense individuality; psychological depth

ii. sense of doom and fate--wheel of fortune--and dramatization of choice and freedom

iii. especially strong: de casibus: rise and fall of great man; story of ambition; tribunes at end of Act I; isolation, individuation vs. community; the great leader who seeks to be author of himself and fails; who, like Claudius and his mirror image Hamlet, tries to be free of his fate

iv. spectacle of suffering

(1). Cor, the crowds, Men. Vol. Virg. Tribunes, Aufid.

(2). imagery of disease and unhealth, created by class struggle (and war?)

v. inner conflicts; soliloquies; competing codes

vi. familial and social issues

(1). mother/son, absent father

(2). revenge vs. mercy

(3). integrity vs. hypocrisy

(4). masculinity and valor

c. what's different

i. Elsinore vs. Republican Rome

(1). not a corrupt atmosphere

ii. less subjective; no guilt; not intellectuals but warriors and politicians

iii. closer to history; social concerns dominate

(1). war/peace

(2). class conflict

3. Overall structure: rise and fall of Cor; steady gains of the populace as a whole?

a. See Act headings in scene outline

b. Power politics--who are players?

i. Romans

(1). plebs

(a). the crowd

(1). factions among people

(b). tribunes

(2). patricians

(a). Senators

(1). Menenius

(2). Cominius, etc.

(b). Marcius

(c). Volumnia

ii. Volsces

(1). plebs

(a). servants

(b). soldiers

(2). Patricians

(a). Senators

(b). Aufidius and conspirators

4. Do read and analysis of first scene

a. see text and scene notes

5. Issues and ambiguities

B. Critical notes

1. Themes

a. speech and action

i. "before we proceed further, hear me speak/ speak, speak" are first lines of play

(1). "why stay we prating here?" 49 "They say poor suitors have strong breaths; they shall know we have strong arms too."

ii. speech interrupts action; action overtaking speech. This is also dramatic rhythm

(1). Menenius one group and also Coriolanus; the other group quieted by being granted speakers--tribunes

iii. Cor. insists integrity, not flattering common people p. 108; tribunes do flatter them and have actual contempt

iv. his problem dealing with custom, to which he must humble himself as well [sees himself above custom] p.109; needs their voices and gains it...representation through speech and voice

(1). Vol. "In such business, action is eloquence." 135

(2). Cor. is forced to lie: "You have put me now to such a part which never/I shall discharge to th'life" 136

v. Comin. 169 Y'are goodly things, you voices!

vi. 173 Cor. he would not answer to; forbad all names; He was a kind of nothing, titleless, till he had forged himself a name o'the'fire /Of burning Rome. 176 Twas very faintly he said "Rise"; dismissed me/Thus with his speechless hand."

(1). fame, name--destructive creation

vii. Like a dull actornow/I have forgot my part and I am out, Even to a full disgrace 182

viii. Vol: Why dost not speak?...Daughter, speak you/ ...Speak thou, boy 186

ix. Aufid accuses Cor of "hoping to purge himself with words." 192 and also of flattering the Volsces to get their favor--quite a switch

(1). "At a few drops of women's rheum, which are as cheap as lies, he sold lthe blood and labor of our great action.," 194

b. characterization of plebs vs. patricians

i. first cit.: our misery is an inventory to particularize their abundance

ii. the crowd--echoes individual speakers

(1). deliberates; speak not maliciously; distinction sought between raw need and revenge, between true and false accusations; a small tribunal of Coriolanus

(a). his services are to please his mother not his country

(b). what he cannot help in his nature you account a vice in him

(2). The Volsican crowd also perceived as fickle and swayable 193-4

iii. fathers--patria; patricians care for you like fathers i,i,78

iv. " if the wars eat us not up, they will" 86

v. patricians as the Belly vs. mutinous members; absorbs all wealth and then redistributes it--the trickle-down theory

vi. Marcius, re crowd: they pursue their own worst interest; they're fickle; he'd like to kill them in piles--brutal speech 200

vii. Marcius' report about the hunger of the crowd and success of their petition

(1). hunger vs. anger..."Anger's my meat"

viii. "Foolhardiness; not I" Soliders are prudent. p. 73

ix. Roman soliders interested only in spoils; M's contempt for their materialism

x. citizens give him their vote generously when he's decent 108

xi. "the honored number who lack not virtue, no nor power, but that/which they have given to beggars." 119

xii. "you speak of the people/As if you were a god, to punish, not/a man of their infirmity" 120

xiii. A gentleman/ A marvlous poor one/ True so I am / Where dwellst thou/ under the canopy/ cf. Lear's wretches 155

(1). but he also beats the servant away 156

xiv. Vols. servingmen hate peace and love war 163.

xv. tribunes celebrate present peace and quietness of people; trademen singing in their shops, and going/About their functions friendly 163

xvi. Aufid: our virtues lie in th' intepretation of the time 172

c. concept of enemy vs. friend--issues of faction; dynamics of power

i. Menen.: patricians...care for you like fathers/When you curse them as enemies

ii. Marc. to cit.: who deserves greatness/deserves your hate

iii. Marc. envies noblility of enemy; cf. imitative glory--Girard

iv. Corioli scene symmetrical with Rome (I,ii)

(1). Mutual intelligence of enemy states; impossibility of secrecy; at the same time mutual deception

(2). Auf. hates Mar. less than Romans

v. "He that retires, I'll take him for Volsce...I'll leave the foe, And make my wars on you (I,iv, p. 72)

vi. We hate alike (p. 80)

vii. after people's love, tribunes stir up hate p.113; people reverse themselves; repent election; tribunes know that will stir up Marc's hate

viii. Auf. "would pawn his fortunes...so he might be your vanquisher" 117

ix. when two authorities are up/neither supreme, how soon confusion may enter twixt the gap of both and take /the one by th'other" 121

x. Marc.: I would they were barbarians, as they are (127)

xi. Nicanor is Roman as traitor (IV,iii)

xii. Cor's soliloquy 153: O world thy slippery turns [Wheel of Fate and Fortune, from TN and Ham]

(1). friends now fast sworn...on a dissension of a doit, break out/to bitterset enmity. So fellest foes...shall grow dear and interjoin their issues.

(2). [is this a profound new realization?] It seems like a growth in awareness.

xiii. he is nothing but spite, hate and revenge as he comes to Aufidius; has no other reason for living--cf. Hamlet's ghost

xiv. Aufid: A thousand welcomes!/ and more a friend than e'er an enemy. 159

xv. peace makes men hate one another 162 [true or not]

xvi. He and Aufid. can no more atone than violent'st contrariety. 166

xvii. Cor's strength with Volsces growing; Aufidius getting jealous 171--Everybody loves him

xviii. Auf's long soliloquy analyzing Cor's career 172

(1). So our virtues/ Lie in the interpretation of the time

(a). flexibility; Menenius; Tribunes; Volumnia; this is Cor.'s failing

(b). his rigidity makes him the most pliant (Rossiter)

xix. One fire drives out one fire; one nail one nail; Rights by rights founder, strengths by strengths do fail

(1). Aufid. will betray Cor. when he's richest

d. love and war

i. Volumnia vs. Virgilia--make war vs. make love

(1). Vol. celebrates fame and masculinity--virtus; she sent him to a cruel war; Virg. worries about his return; Vol. prefers noble death to pleasure

(2). Vol. loves blood and assimilates it to nursing breast: the breasts of Hecuba ooked no lovelier then Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood... 45

(3). Mar. to Comin.: O let me clip ye /in arms as sound as when I wooed; in heart as merry as when our nuptial day was done,/And tapers burned to bedward (p. 77)

(4). Aufidius' incredible love song 158; love in hate

(a). 161: Our general makes a mistress of him

(5). peace makes men hate one another 162

(6). rage vs mercy; revenge vs. forgiveness 182

ii. Make love not war

(1). "Be blest for making up this peace...the end of war's uncertain" 186

(2). "But let it come [cf. Hamlet's "Let be"]/ Aufid. though I cannot make true wars, I'll frame convenient peace." 187 Were you in my stead, would have have heard/ A mother less? Or granted less, Aufidius?"

(3). "making a treaty where/there was a yielding--this admits no excuse." --Volsce

e. masculinity; also mother son relationship

i. needlework vs. swordplay

ii. Vol. only wants male children

iii. little boy mammocking butterfly; drum rather than schoolmaster I,iii, 60

iv. When [as young man Marc.]might act the woman in the scene/He proved best man i th field..." p. 102

v. "you might have been enough the man you are/With striving less to be so" 133

vi. "You were used to load me with precepts..." 145

vii. Virg: he'd make an end of thy posterity

viii. Volumnia manipulates him into being great warrior, seeking consulship, placating crowd, making peace. The last three have disastrous results for him.

ix. Mar. to Comin.: O let me clip ye /in arms as sound as when I wooed; in heart as merry as when our nuptial day was done,/And tapers burned to bedward (p. 77)

x. Aufidius' incredible love song 158; love in hate

(1). 161: Our general makes a mistress of him

xi. Cor: "Not of a woman's tenderness to be/Requires nor child nor woman's face to see." 186

xii. Cor: "Ladies, you deserve to have a temple built you. All the swords in Italy, and her confederate arms/couldn not have made this peace." 188

xiii. He's subdued by mother, but he's also brought her to her knees

xiv. Senators welcome victorious ladies 192

xv. Cor. ending up as "Boy"; his boy and mother's presence in V,iii

xvi. at end he invokes God--Mars--and Aufidius taunts him with "Boy" (=less than Man; subordinate to Mother) and Cor. insists on his ability to be great alone--what 's status of this final cry?

(1). is this irony--that he's finally grown up? Or is it sign of his inescapable childishness?

f. naming and namelessness

i. focus on I,ix: getting new name; forgetting name of old man; namelessness of servants and citizens; "boy"

g. isolation vs. community (country) and family

i. "He is himself alone to answer all the city" p. 73

ii. "O me alone! Make you a sword of me?" 79

iii. "I have done as you have done, that's what I can...that's for my country" p. 81

iv. Cor. refuses payments and praise p.82

v. "I banish you" 144

vi. Cor's isolation in Antium

vii. Feast, [festive] but not guest 154

viii. no name but Coriol 157

ix. the honored mold/wherein this trunk was framed...all bond and privilege of nature break...I'll never be such a gosling to obey instinct, but stand as if a man were author of himself and knew no other kin" 182

x. Cor "Were you in my stead, would you have heard A mother less? Or granted less, Aufidius?" 188

h. courage and cowardice

i. Comin: "like Romans, neither foolish in our stands/nor cowardly in retire" p. 75

ii. fears the wives and boys of Antium 152

iii. is it courageous or cowardly for Cor. to try to make peace and buck the Aufidian trend? "Let be--he knows what's going to happen"

2. Imagery: the body and eating

a. Orality and aggression: cannibalism

b. disease and body imagery--hunger and eating and evacuation

c. "Anger's my meat: Feeding, Dependency and Aggression in Cor"

i. image of hungry mouths armed in riot goes with unnourishing mother; both sides are motivated by same lack

d. the Belly

e. Marcius: you dissentious rogues/that rubbing the poor itch of your opinion/Make yourselves scabs 167; your affections are a sick man's appetite, who desires most that/which would increase his evil 178

f. plebs: hunger broke stone walls, dogs must eat, meant was made for mouths, the gods sent not corn for rich men only.

g. Marc: war as means to vent our musty superfluity I,i, 227

h. You are plebeians/if they be senators...when both your voices blended, the great'st taste/Most palates theirs 121

i. Feast, [festive] but not guest 154

j. Servingman: "And he had been cannibally given, he might have boiled and eaten him too." [Cor: Auf]

k. Men. "When we have stuffed...with wine and feeding, we have suppler souls/Than in our priestlike fasts. Therefor I'll watch thim Till he be dieted...and then I'll set upon him." 175

3. Characters

a. Coriolanus

i. immature and narrow

ii. easily manipulated by Men. Comin. Volumn. also Aufid?

C. Scene notes

1. I--Marcius' military triumph and elevation

a. I, i: Rome, A street --

i. [is this opening scene analogous to Bishops in HV?]

ii. analogies to opening of Othello; Macbeth; Hamlet; RJ; Lear--unease and disorder, followed by restoration of order; mutinous perspective; plot afoot

iii. company of mutinous citizens: speech vs. action

(1). first citizen is militant; second citizen is conciliatory; moderation and sense of fairness

(2). they want food; corn; something to eat; setting of dearth vs. hoarding of aristocrats

(3). create sympathy for them and against authority; questioning class structure and values: hunger vs. revenge

(a). Corn riots in midlands and enclosures of 1607-8

(4). their analysis of Cor--proud; not servant of state but only his pride and his mother

(a). Vol. loves blood and assimilates it to nursing breast: the breasts of Hecuba ooked no lovelier then Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood... 45

iv. Menenius, trusted by people; restrains them; a peacemaker

(1). tells them they have no hope against the state; the gods make the dearth; the patricians are friends not enemies

(2). they refute this in reply with statement of grievances

(a). storehouses full

(b). usurers benefit (high interest rates)

(c). civil liberties curtailed

(d). if the wars eat not us up they will--imagery of cannibalism

(1). relation of war and feeding; eating and cannibalizing

(2). Cor. will feed on his mother Rome

(3). cools them down with long winded and suspenseful, but cliched story of the Belly; it delays but doesnt convince them

(a). is this the norm against which the "disease" of the body politic is measured? How seriously are we to take Menen.?

v. Marcius enters and abuses people; they trade insults and sarcasm; reports that other group got satsifaction for their claims--political representation; a voice

(1). he predicts they'll want more power

(2). welcomes news of war

vi. Senators enter to recruit Marcius for war; rank is reestablished--"right worthy you priority"-- including mutinous citizens: "take these rats thither/to gnaw their garners"

(1). hatred of feeding; in order to avoid being soft, he becomes excessively rigid

vii. Tribunes remain behind; gossip about his pride and political position; their savvy--best to be in second place

b. I,ii Corioli, The Senate House

i. disagreement about military intelligence: Auf. has most and knows Romans know about Volsces; Senators are sceptical

c. I,iii Room in Marcius' house [status of women in Rome]

i. Volumnia vs. Virgilia--make war vs. make love debate; doing needlework instead of politics or war; Virgilia wont go out till M. comes back

(1). Vol. celebrates fame and masculinity--virtus; she sent him to a cruel war; Virg. worries about his return; Vol. prefers noble death to pleasure

(2). Vol. loves blood and assimilates it to nursing breast: the breasts of Hecuba ooked no lovelier then Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood... 45

d. I,iv-v Before Corioli

i. Mar. and Lar. betting; amiable competitive play

ii. Mar. attacks alone and takes the city by himself, while soldiers are afraid or take spoils

e. I,vi Cominius' camp

i. Mar. received heroically by Comin. Finds more heros and continues to fight in pursuit of Aufid.

(1). all this serves to legitimate warfare against pacifist and populist antagonism

f. I,vii-viii-ix Gates of Cor.; battlefield; Marc. vs. Aufid.

i. "We hate alike" --Aufid. loses against Cor.

ii. Comin.'s boundless praise; Mar.'s modesty--for my country; adulation of crowds and new name p.83

iii. Mar.'s concern for prisoner p.84 who has given him mercy and for whom he is concerned; but he has forgotten the old man's name; the crowd is nameless; Coriolanus ends up "Boy."

g. I, x

i. Aufidius, frustrated with fifth honorable defeat, decides on vengeance by any means necessary--clear contrast to Mar's high-mindedness.

2. II--Marcius' political elevation and last minute reversal

a. II,i Rome, public place

i. Long scene following flurry of short ones

ii. Menenius and tribunes trade lengthy abuse; class insults each accused of judicial incompentence. Menenius admits he's a drinker; they call him clown

iii. Ladies enter with news of Mar.'s return; Vol's pride, Virg's fear; discussion of his wounds

iv. Grand procession enters, Cor. crowned; all welcome Cor. hysterically; proud Vol. says "my boy": he kneels to her; she has "lived to see inherited my very wishes and buildings of my fancy only there's one thing wanting" --consulship.

v. they leave; tribunes Brutus and Sicinius remain to make contemptuous comments about crowd's adulation and predict their turning on him. They are threatened by his success.

b. II,ii Rome, Senate

i. Two officers debate Mar's hate for the people--excessive or not

ii. entry procession; tribunes asked to share praise with people; Mar. refuses to stay and hear praises; Cominius relates his heroic past, since a girl-like boy a hero; Senate makes him consul if he'll speak to people; he doesn't want to play the role

c. II,iii Rome, the Forum

i. group of citizens debating whether they should be grateful; decisions are made in common; waver

ii. Cor enters in gown of humility and has to request their vote, against his inclination, coached by Men.; all he has to do is "ask it kindly." He gets their voices.

iii. Tribunes rebuke people for conceding; they reinterpret Cor's gestures and words as hostile and mocking; convince them to revoke support

3. III--Civic Confusion: Marcius' struggle with the plebs--he manipulated by mother; they by tribune; chaos; his banishment

a. III,i Rome, a street

i. war w. Volsces reported at stalemate; tribunes block M's progress to market; Men tries to calm heat; accused of being traitor; predicted chaos breaks out; old triubnes abused "confusion's near (125) "

(1). Mar. warns that populace will not be ruled if not curbed; they deliberately provoke his anger; he makes more abusive comments; questions any rights of the people (123); anti-republican;

(2). Men. tries to maintain order; tribunes stir up people more; aristocrats are terrified; Cor. suggests fighting plebs; Comin. sees "odds beyond arithmetic."

(3). Menen. gets Cor and Com. to retreat and calms crowd but only by agreeing to bring Cor. to trial.

b. III,ii Rome, house of Cor.

i. dialogue with mother; first he says she taught him to hate the commons; now she tries to get him to relent by putting him down;

(1). he needs to use honor and policy 134; must learn to speak and dissemble; she robs his freedom: "Mother I am going to the marketplace."

(2). under influence of mother and friends, his flexibility looks as much like vaccillation as the crowds.

c. III, iii The forum

i. tribunes prepare to manipulate the crowd in the tribunal, and agin to stir up Cor.

ii. Cor. plays at being peacemonger: throng our large temples with the shows of peace/and not our streets with war." 140

(1). he doesn't mean it here, but later I think he will

iii. at goading, Cor loses it; bansihed by crowd that wont listen to Comin.

iv. Cor. claims to banish them and threatens revenge; they celebrate his banishment; ostracism; ugly crowd behavior.

(1). irony: he claims self sufficiency while all his fate is manipulated; cf. Hamlet's manipulation by ghost

4. IV--Rome seems peaceful; Marcius joins Volsces and seems to rise again; he learns to be politic

a. IV,i Rome before the gate

i. pathetic departure to family and friends, but insisting on self sufficiency

b. IV,ii Rome near gate

i. tribunes are content with triumph; ready to make peace

ii. afraid to encounter Volum.; they're sheepish; they call her mad

c. IV,iii Between Rome and Antium

i. Nicanor--a real traitor to Rome-- reports civil unrest between people and senators in Rome, "almost mature for the violent breaking out" (151)

d. IV,iv Antium, Aufidius' house

i. Cor. enters in mean apparel, disguised; these are the two conditions he earlier refused; his soliloquy on fortune, friends and foes.

e. IV,v Antium

i. Feast in Aufidius' house, [festive] but C's not guest 154;

ii. unmuffling and naming himself to Aufid 157; he is made of revenge and spite alone; long speech affirming it;

iii. Aufidius passionate love-response 158; gives half his troops to Cor.--(perfect friendship that soon will sour)

iv. servingmen find Cor. awesome, moreso than Aufid.

v. V. Servingmen celebrate the onset of war and end of peace

f. IV,vii Camp near Rome

i. Cor's strength with Volsces growing; Aufidius getting jealous 171--A's soliloquy and plan

5. V--Rome rendered prostrate; Marcius relents to Volumnia, makes peace, and is destroyed

a. V,i Rome, a Public place

i. Menenius called father by Cor. ; tribunes persuade Men. to plead with Cor. despite rebuff to Comin. Men. agrees, Comin. thinks ites hopeless.

b. V,ii Volscian camp

i. Men tries to pass Watch; says he ever lied on Cor's behalf--[similar scene to Cor. trying to get to Aufid]; uses trivial and flattering rhetoric; more concerned with servants than reaching Cor.; plays up father/son relation

ii. Cor. wont speak to him, but gives him note; inner conflict, but performs before Aufidius--"This man Aufidius, was my beloved in Rome; yet thou beholdst."

iii. Watch characterize Cor: "He's the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken" 180 [but everyone is windshaken; see Aufid's and Cor's solils]

c. V,iii Cor's tent

i. Cor. concerned with his image among Volsces; Aufid reassures him he has been tough, but he's "wind-shaking" and softening 181

(1). needs to "show sourly" here

(2). "let it be virtuous to be obstinate"--earlier his obstinacy was uncontrolled

ii. Entrance of women; he softens further at the call of affection and Great Nature ; wants to be author of himself; but sinks to earth and yields to kiss

iii. Mother kneels to him; he can't stand that

iv. Prays his boy will "like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw/ And saving those that eye-thee" 184

(1). ironically, at this poinjt boy is bending and he is yielding

v. Vol. condemns his hardness; he switches to Aufidius; her speech of persuasion continues, a relentless assault

(1). the contradiction of having him as friend and enemy

(2). he must reconcile both parts in peace rather than make war, or she and Virgilia will die and son will flee and resist

vi. He crumbles; Volumnia's pro-peace/anti-war speech

(1). "Be blest for making up this peace...the end of war's uncertain"

vii. Cor gives in; agrees to make peace; appeals to Aufid.'s humanity--motherhood. Aufid. states "I was moved withal," but in aside, plans treachery. 188

d. V, iv Rome

i. Men. 's false prediction: The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes...He wants nothing of a god but eternity and a heaven to throne in...there is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger...189

ii. The plebians are attacking the tribunes

iii. Messenger brings opposite news; celebration, festivity, dancing; help the joy--tragic-comic reversal

e. V,v Rome near gate

i. Senators welcome ladies

f. V,vi Corioli

i. Aufid. accuses Cor. also conspires treacherously with assassins.

ii. Cor is the darling of the commoners and the peacemakers; the victim of military interests: We have made peace with no less honor to the Antiates/Than shame to the Romans

iii. Auf. calls him traitor and takes his name away; makes appeal to sexism; calls him bleeding heart peacenik 196..."boy of tears."

iv. Cor. becomes enraged and reverts back to "Alone I did it" and rage

v. Crowd wants again to tear him to pieces

vi. Lords try to make peace and convene an orderly tribunal, but swept away with mob blood-lust

vii. Aufidius mourns after his rage is spent