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MonkeyNotes-Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
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The Citizens

Although the citizens play a prominent part in the play, Shakespeare’s attitude towards the mob is one of derision and contempt. They are derided by the nobles for lacking any kind of reason or intelligence and are also inconstant, a quality which Coriolanus finds deplorable. The citizens perform the task of the Greek chorus, often commenting on what has just taken place or is about to, and gossiping about the nobles. Animal imagery is used to characterize the commoners. Coriolanus denounces them as “the beast / With many heads” after he has been banished from Rome and also refers to them as vermin and curs. Their loyalty wavers constantly and they constitute an ever changing backdrop to the tragic story of Coriolanus’ downfall. They are essentially headstrong, foolish, inconstant, cowardly, easily swayed, and guided by passion rather than reason.

Cominius

Cominius is the Roman consul who is the general-in-chief of the army. He leads the army against the Volscians in Corioli. His name is derived from the Latin word “comis” meaning “cultured.” Although he does not have a major role in the play, he represents the ideal Roman patrician. He is an elder statesman whose thoughts are always for the good of Rome. He himself says, “ I do love / My country’s good with a respect more tender, / More holy and profound than my own life;” but he too is contemptuous of the commoners and their tribunes. He is a good soldier yet respectful of his men; however, he does not quite have a strong enough personality to be a great leader.


Titus Lartius

Titus Lartius is a general who accepts to fight under the command of Marcius against the Volscians. Along with Marcius he leads the Romans against the city of Corioli. He is a simple straightforward military man who has suffered from some illness and is second in command to Marcius. This highlights his devotion to his country since he fights even when he is not well. He is dismayed by Marcius’ disappearance behind the gates of Corioli and giving him up for dead, pays him a glowing eulogy as the epitome of warriors. Marcius praises Lartius’ ability in administering the city of Corioli but tells Cominius that he is as restless as a dog on a leash to join them in actual battle. He shows political insight when he remarks that the Volscians have not accepted their defeat and are preparing for another attack to avenge themselves. He does not exhibit the political smugness and complacency of Cominius who thinks that the Volscians will not dare to attack Rome again. Titus Lartius disappears from the play soon after the action moves from Corioli to Rome, from the uncomplicated battlefield to the world of political intrigues.

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MonkeyNotes-Coriolanus by William Shakespeare

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