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MonkeyNotes-Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
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Coriolanus is so affected by his mother’s appeals that he attempts to leave, as he has done at other highly emotional times during the play when force cannot be used. When Volumnia continues, he cannot leave, for he is in her power. She suggests that Coriolanus effect an agreement that will be honorable to both the sides, where he Volscians can earn praise for their mercy and the Romans can show their gratitude. Coriolanus, in turn, will be lauded by both sides for securing peace. Although her argument sounds perfectly logical, Coriolanus maintains a steely silence. When she sees that logic and “cold reason” is not working, Volumnia changes her appeal to emotion. She resolves to shame him by kneeling and bids the others to follow suit. She points out that the sight of a little boy kneeling in supplication before his father should have a stronger impact than her pleas. She also accuses him of showing more pride than pity to his family. Coriolanus, however, still maintains silence. Volumnia’s last effort works as she says that they shall leave because Coriolanus “had a Volscian to his mother;/ His wife is in Corioli, and his child/ Like him by chance.” This humiliating comment stirs Coriolanus.


As the family turns to go away, Coriolanus takes Volumnia’s hand with a pitiable cry, “O mother, mother!” and laments that even the gods must be laughing at this unnatural scene. Coriolanus realizes that his death is imminent; therefore, destroying Rome seems superfluous. He tells Volumnia that she has won “a happy victory to Rome” but one that spells doom for him. From this point forward, there is no hope for Coriolanus’ life; but for the first time, he puts away his pride and shows flexibility, going beyond his own needs and selfish preoccupations. Although all is over for him, he has decided not to bring more shame to his name or his family.

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MonkeyNotes-Coriolanus by William Shakespeare

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