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Analysis of Coriolanus Essay


William Shakespeare


Many of Shakespeares literature plays have characters that are filled with characteristics like pride, affection, ambition, greed, and anger to develop them into tragic figures. Shakespeare creatively uses characteristics like these along with literary terms to illustrate how his characters are full of tragic flaws. In Coriolanus, Shakespeare translates the character, Coriolanus, into a tragic figure by emphasizing on his ambitious attitude and by using creative metaphors to elaborate more on how Coriolanuss own actions cause his tragic downfall.

Coriolanuss ambition caused him to show ingratitude toward his people and companions. Coriolanuss ambition gets him to show ingratitude, which makes him more cruel to your good report than grateful(Ingratitude is Monstrous: An Approach to Coriolanus). The character develops foes, as he shows no sign of gratefulness towards his fellow citizens. The ingratitude in him is caused by his ambition and turns many against him causing his downfall. In the aristocratic Roman views the banishment of Coriolanus was to stress the outrageous ingratitude(Ingratitude is Monstrous: An Approach to Coriolanus). The rich Romans knew that other senators were tired of getting no gratitude from Coriolanus even after their great work for him. This soon caused them to banish him out of the city of Rome. Coriolanuss ambition created a lot of hatred for him in this way. Due to the excessive ambition in Coriolanus, his pride is transformed from a glorious fulfillment of his familial identity to a fatal defiance of it(Adelman 41). In the beginning many Romans loved Coriolanus not only for his patriotic deeds but also for his pride. But, soon the ambition in him turned his majestic pride into an ungrateful one. Soon, most of the Romans started defying Coriolanus. Coriolanuss ambition makes him an arrogant and prideful, but strong war hero on the battlefield (Coriolanus: The Death of a Political Metaphor. When arrogance and pride takes over Coriolanus, it makes him a good war hero. But, this characteristic turns into a tragic flaw for him as he becomes a little too forceful, ungrateful, and violent in front of many causing his exile. Coriolanuss ambition allows him to think great of himself and thus he shows no gratitude towards his fellow Romans, causing him to have a tragic downfall.

The ambition in Coriolanus causes him to be an aggressive person who always thinks of himself. When he shows his ambition for the leadership, Coriolanus is the enemy of the peoples liberties and charters(Coriolanus: The Death of a Political Metaphor). Coriolanus becomes very greedy for the power he desires. His ambition makes him a dangerous objective for Rome as he stands at a potential to start riots and revolts throughout the city. His ambition created a lot of aggression in him, which made Coriolanus believes war to be beautiful not because it protects or strengthens Rome and its residents but because it smears him into the bloody existence on an otherwise blank canvas(Unbuilding the City: Coriolanus and the Birth of Republican Rome). The ambitious anger in Coriolanus turns him violent. Because of his forceful manners many Romans start despising him. As he practices his power with his ambition, Coriolanuss lawlessnessis deemed criminal and he becomes an outcast, a figure of exile(Arms and Laws in Shakespeares Coriolanus). Coriolanuss anger makes most Romans hate him as he starts criticizing them and causes the senators to banish him from the city of Rome. Thus, Coriolanuss ambitious anger takes part in his downfall. The connection between Coriolanuss aggressive attitude and his ambitious attempt to claim the position of leader is seen in the first battle of the play (Watson 82). As Coriolanus shows his true characteristics in the beginning of the play, he sets himself up for a rough ride because many start hating him. His ambition causes his anger that gets him many enemies. The ambition in Coriolanus, which is the cause of his aggression, causes his downfall greatly as many turn against him due to his anger.

The ambition that is settled in Coriolanus causes him to be separated from the rest of his companions as well as his reputation getting ruined. Due to the excessive ambition he shows towards the common people, Coriolanus appearance before the crowd was bound to end disastrously(Ingratitude is Monstrous: An Approach to Coriolanus). Coriolanus despises the common people of Rome because he dislikes their way of living and their behavior. Due to this, the common citizens start hating Coriolanus too. This unmutualistic relationship between the two sides creates a barrier that causes Coriolanuss banishment from Rome. Coriolanuss ambition makes him hated by many and gives him the title of both Military hero and exile traitor, Coriolanus struggles for self sovereignty but doing so doubles as a bid for sovereign power within the republic itself(Arms and Laws in Shakespeares Coriolanus). Although Coriolanuss reputation of a war hero does not change, he does get a parallel reputation of a traitor. Many Romans hate him and his ambition, which soon causes his exile. Towards the end, many of the Roman citizens know the fact that Coriolanus is destroyed as an ambitious violator of his hereditary natureprovides the tragic spectacle of human aspiration entrapped by the confusing and finally contradictory instructions of a divided godhead(Adelman 41). The majority of Romans notice Coriolanuss ambition and know how it his making his life tragic. Coriolanuss ambitious attitude causes his downfall greatly as the citizens hate his pride. Due to excessive ambition, Coriolanuss pride and tyrannical behavior launch the terms of a traitor and a cruel ruler towards him (Arms and Laws in Shakespeares Coriolanus). The names Coriolanus is given from the citizens reflect the idea that his ambition took part in his tragic downfall. Many hate him for his ambitious behavior and others for his greedy anger. Coriolanuss ambition causes his glorious and patriotic reputation to be tarnished and also causes him to be named a traitor of his country resulting in his banishment, and later his tragic downfall.

Shakespeare creatively uses metaphors to illustrate how Coriolanuss ingratitude and decisions caused many people to turn into his foes. As Coriolanus shows no sign of gratitude towards others, many politicians spread rumors about how Coriolanus is a disease and must be cut away(Ingratitude is Monstrous: An Approach to Coriolanus). The metaphor is used to compare Coriolanus to a disease proving how his ingratitude has caused many to turn against him. Coriolanus has become infected for many and they want this infected Coriolanus to be killed. Coriolanuss ingratitude causes him to be called, not a great leader, but only a limb diseased, Mortal, to cut it off; to cure it, easy(Ingratitude is Monstrous: An Approach to Coriolanus). This metaphor turns Coriolanus from a deadly disease, to a weak and infected limb. This is another result of Coriolanuss ingratitude, which made him weak and easy to handle in the eyes of many. As Coriolanus continues to make wrong and selfish decisions, others separate from him and then Rome is a world in which Coriolanus could live as the lonely dragon(Unbuilding the City: Coriolanus and the Birth of Republican Rome). Coriolanus is metaphorically compared to a lonely dragon. This shows and proves that the ingratitude Coriolanus is filled with separates him from his people and soon causes his downfall. He did not become a political animal, which stopped the flow of power to him. In addition, his wealth and power didnt help him enough to become a member of the body of his city (Coriolanus: The Death of a Political Metaphor). As politics and animals are compared, it shows how cruel and violent a politician can become. But, politicians have power. Coriolanus did not become a violent politician, but along with that he didnt get the power of a politician. His ingratitude towards politicians limited his chance to gaining power. The metaphors were successful to prove that Coriolanus caused his own downfall by the ingratitudanal attitude he had by which he caused people to turn into his enemies.

A lot times Shakespeare made the use of his metaphors to evaluate on how Coriolanuss anger was one of his tragic flaws. Because of his aggression and attitude in exile Coriolanus remains the singular exception, the lonely dragon(Arms and Laws in Shakespeares Coriolanus). Coriolanuss ambitious anger gives him nothing but loneliness and banishment. He is exiled from his native country in anger, metaphorically making him a lonely dragon. His anger gives him a reputation of being a figure of war, as an exile, and as a personal...that threatens throughout and capitulates to only in the end(Arms and Laws in Shakespeares Coriolanus). Coriolanus is metaphorically compared to a figure of war and an exile that scares foes and doesnt retreat. This metaphor shows how Coriolanuss anger makes him greedy which eventually causes his downfall. Because of the stubborn aggression in him, Coriolanus becomes a type of martial force that does not obey the laws either of nature or community(Arms and Laws in Shakespeares Coriolanus). Coriolanus is compared to a martial force in this metaphor, which gives him a fiery and angry image, as he does not obey any laws. This shows his resistance and proves that anger is dangerous for Coriolanus and thus the metaphor proves that Coriolanus caused his own downfall. Coriolanuss anger was proved to be a cause of his downfall by the use of creative metaphors by Shakespeare as his anger caused him loneliness and separation.

The metaphors used by Shakespeare also proved Coriolanuss pride to be a cause of his downfall. As he gets used to the power and fame, some of the citizens view Coriolanuss pride as a quality he cannot help in his nature(Arms and Laws in Shakespeares Coriolanus). Coriolanuss pride is metaphorically called a quality he cannot help. This shows how Coriolanuss pride is natural. The metaphor successfully shows that Coriolanus cannot control his excessive pride and thus his pride can cause his downfall. The overabundant pride in Coriolanus gives him a double status as war hero and lawless tyrant(Arms and Laws in Shakespeares Coriolanus). By metaphorically calling Coriolanus a war hero he will think greater of himself causing an elevation in is pride. Soon, this elevated pride will cause his downfall. At many times Coriolanus ridicules the wealthy politicians, as being the tongues oth common mouth, the mouths who do not control the teeth because they have set the people against him(Adelman 41). Coriolanus hates the common people because they turned all the rich and noble Romans against him. The common people are metaphorically called mouths to show how they can swallow up Coriolanus. This metaphor shows that the hatred between Coriolanus and the common Romans can be deadly for him. Before the world welcomed Coriolanuss pride, but later hated it, which made the world a maternal temptress (Adelman 41). The world is compared to a maternal temptress in this metaphor. This metaphor helps Shakespeare juxtapose welcoming Coriolanuss pride from hating it later on, which shows how his pride took part in his downfall. Once again, the metaphors succeeded to prove that pride was a tragic flaw quality of Coriolanus, which later causes his own downfall.

Shakespeare innovatively used successful metaphors to give the character, Coriolanus, characteristics of a tragic figure and creatively showed that ambition is one of the main causes Coriolanus had a tragic downfall. Shakespeare successfully illustrated how Coriolanus made decision that turned many against him causing part of his downfall. Shakespeare also correctly displayed that Coriolanuss ambition made many Romans hate him and how Coriolanuss ambition also led him to his death. In agreement with the critics, Coriolanus becomes a tragic figure that was the cause of his own tragic downfall.

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