« ZurückWeiter »
for her last scene, in which she pleads for the safety of Rome, and wins from her angry son that peace which all the swords of Italy and her confederate arms could not have purchased. The strict and even literal adherence to the truth of history is an additional beauty." This famous speech, ending with line 182, closely follows the spirit and letter of Plutarch, as rendered by North: "My son, why dost thou not answer me? Dost thou think it good altogether to give place unto thy choler and desire of revenge, and thinkest thou it not honesty [an honour] for thee to grant thy mother's request in so weighty a cause? Dost thou take it honourable for a nobleman to remember the wrongs and injuries done him, and dost not in like case think it an honest nobleman's part to be thankful for the goodness that parents do show to their children, acknowledging the duty and reverence they ought to bear unto them? No man living is more bound to show himself thankful in all parts and respects than thyself, who so universally showest all ingratitude. Moreover, my son, thou hast sorely taken of thy country, exacting grievous payments upon them in revenge of the injuries offered thee; besides, thou hast not hitherto showed thy poor mother any courtesy. And, therefore, it is not only honest [honourable], but due unto me, that without compulsion I should obtain my so just and reasonable request of thee. But since by reason I cannot persuade thee to it, to what purpose do I defer my last hope? And with these words, herself, his wife, and children fell down upon their knees before him.
With scarcely the intervention of any speaker of superior gravity to Menenius, the return and reception of the successful embassy of ladies and their demeanour are set before us with such simple force as to excite our veneration for the state deservedly destined to be imperial. The last encounter of the ladies and the city was marked by the mad petulance of Volumnia enraged at her loss, and the pettish lamentations of Virgilia; they now pass along after a still greater private loss-for hope of the return of Coriolanus is over-silent and dignified, and all the members of the state that were before opposed, unite to accompany them with honour, and senators and patricians, tribunes and people, forget all past disputes in joy and gratitude for the salvation of the state which none was false to in its hour of utmost peril.
132. Kill:-In the concluding Scene we appear to see the supremacy of Rome assured, by her former faults and excesses appearing to be expelled with the banished Coriolanus to her enemies. In the capitol of the Volscians is perpetrated the assassination from the disgrace of which the better spirit of the Romans preserved their city; Aufidius and his fellows with equal envy and ingratitude take the place of the plotting tribunes, and the senators are powerless to control the conspirators and the mob of citizens who abet them. For Coriolanus himself it cannot be said that his mercy to his native city either sprung from or engendered a nobler sentiment of patriotism than he had shown himself capable of entertaining before; he returns the soldier of the Volscian as he went, and the only alleviation that his fate admits is that it is at least by an outburst of his original nature, faulty as it might be, that he provokes it, and that, carried away by passion and impatience, he dies at least in declared exultation at an exploit performed when he was the glorious soldier of Rome.
Questions on Coriolanus.
1. Why does the play open with a scene presenting the common people?
2. In what respects does this mob resemble the Jack Cade mob presented in 2 Henry VI.?
3. What opinion of Caius Marcius is held by the citizens?
4. How does Menenius make application of the fable of The Belly and the Members?
5. Mention some of the things that Caius Marcius says about the common people in his first speech. What does he say about the use of proverbs? What said Lord Chesterfield about the same?
6. Is it Shakespeare's usual method to introduce a character in this way? Does the situation develop the attitude of Caius Marcius, or does he seem to come forth as the possessor of an habitual mood?
7. Why does Caius Marcius welcome the news of the belligerency of the Volscians? What is foreshadowed in what he says of Tullus Aufidius?
8. What is the comment on Marcius made by the tribunes after his withdrawal?
9. What is effected by Sc. ii.?
10. In Sc. iii., where Volumnia first appears, what is the subject of her discourse and what national trait does it display? How is Virgilia contrasted with her? What interests her imagination?
II. How is cruelty as a trait ascribed to Marcius?
12. How is the iron temper of the times indicated by the domestic picture shown in Sc. iii.? For what does Virgilia stand?
13. Describe the battle incidents of Sc. iv. and indicate their effect upon Marcius.
14. How is Marcius presented in Sc. v.; how in Sc. vi.?
15. Does Sc. viii. bear out the reality of all the boasting of Marcius? Is the incident suitable for representation?
16. How does Marcius receive the honours of war? Compare Plutarch's account of the incident of the prisoner for whom Coriolanus begged release with Shakespeare's presentation of it. 17. What terms are granted to the Volscian city? How does Aufidius speak of Coriolanus?
18. What account of himself does Menenius give in Sc. i.? Has he humour; has he patrician arrogance? Compare him with Lafeu in All's Well that Ends Well.
19. How does he contrast with Coriolanus in his opinion of the plebeian orders?
20. Indicate the purpose of the scene between Menenius and the women. Is Volumnia indifferent to the honours that proceed from the common people?
21. How is Coriolanus welcomed home by his mother; how by his wife?
22. What of his courtesy to women?
23. Where does Coriolanus first go in the city?
24. In what spirit does Brutus describe the crowd (lines 213229) that go out to meet Coriolanus?
25. What do the tribunes fear from Coriolanus's elevation? What dramatic purpose is effected by lines 232-234?
26. What had Coriolanus said about the manner of suing for the consulship? What schemes for his defeat do the two tribunes meditate?
27. How is the enveloping atmosphere of the play indicated in the dialogue of the two Officers in Sc. ii.?
28. What provocation did Brutus give for the outbreak of Coriolanus in the senate?
29. Against what prerogative of the commons does Coriolanus inveigh? What motive prompts him? Do his words react against him?
30. How (Sc. iii.) do the citizens reason? How does the preliminary of the Scene prepare for the public appearance of Coriolanus?
31. What feelings bred by his egotism does Coriolanus show at the outset? How are the three scenes of petitioning differentiated? Has Coriolanus any better excuse than personal repugnance to deter him from asking the people for their voices?
32. How are the commons wrought upon to withdraw the promises they have given?
33. With what ominous sounds does Sc. i. open? Is there irony in lines 19, 20?
34. What does Coriolanus say of the free distribution of corn? What measure of political wisdom does he utter during his indignant rejoinder to Sicinius?
35. Were not the commons right in rejecting him as consul? 36. How is the brawl fomented? Does Coriolanus bear himself with dignity? Is there heard ever a word of criticism of him from his fellow patricians?
37. What influence has Menenius upon the crowd?
38. Does Volumnia in Sc. ii. council prudence? Is she superior to her son in mental power?
39. Comment upon the ethics of her speech beginning line 52. What motive impels her to urge her son to conciliate the angry people?
40. What leads Coriolanus to yield? With what presage of success does he go forth?
41. How does Sicinius prepare for the appearance of Coriolanus?
42. What instinct leads Coriolanus to turn inquisitor first? What stirs up his anger again?
43. Was there consideration in the sentence passed upon him? 44. Indicate the effect of his final speech. Being the apotheosis of egotism, what does it need behind it to carry conviction?
45. What is the unconscious irony of Coriolanus's words, Sc. i. 4?
46. Was it maternal love or disappointed ambition that caused Volumnia to forget her patriotism?
47. How does Sc. ii. present Volumnia? How is the action advanced by Sc. iii.?
48. How does Coriolanus philosophize in Sc. iv.? What connecting link in the action is here supplied?
49. Characterize the humour of the scene of the parley of Coriolanus with the servants of Aufidius.