Sounds, Words, Gestures and Deeds in Coriolanus
DOI link for Sounds, Words, Gestures and Deeds in Coriolanus
Sounds, Words, Gestures and Deeds in Coriolanus book
Plutarch begins his account of the life of Caius Martius Coriolanus by commenting on his noble origins and drawing attention to a salient fact: ‘being left an orphan’ he was brought up by his mother. Unlike Shakespeare’s character, this man lacks the ability to establish comfortable relationships with his peers: socially, he is something of a misfit. The rough side of Shakespeare’s character emerges only in his relationship with the plebeians: his assertiveness does not arise from a sense of personal superiority but from his deeply ingrained belief in the superiority of his class. In his very first battle, Plutarch records, Martius saved a fallen Roman soldier by standing astride him and killing his enemy. The first major social conflict recounted by Plutarch – something which is merely alluded to by Shakespeare – grew out of the severe oppression of the commonality by the rich, who exploited them by means of high interest rates backed up by harsh penalties.