Coriolanus Key Critics/Critical Opinions

A.C.Bradley – Shakespearean Tragedy, 1904 – on his attitude to the people he is very unjust to them, and his ideal, though high, is also narrow. But he is magnificently true to it, and even when he most repels us we feel this glory in him
A.C.Bradley – Shakespearean Tragedy, 1904 – on the ending since we know that his nature remains unchanged…we await with little suspense, almost indeed with tranquility, the certain end.
A.C.Bradley – Shakespearean Tragedy, 1904 – on Coriolanus’ death the instantaneous cessation of enormous energy…strikes us with awe, but not with pity
A.C.Bradley – Shakespearean Tragedy, 1904 – when he brought peace in death, Rome changed in a way that he wouldn’t have liked anyway (I think?) Romans and Volscians will have peace now, and in his city patricians and plebeians will move along the way he barred. And they are in life, and he is not. But life has suddenly shrunk and dwindled, and become a home for pygmies and not for him
A.C.Bradley – Shakespearean Tragedy, 1904 – about the emptiness of Aufidius (in his view) (Aufidius) is a man of straw. He was wanted merely with the plot, and in reading some passages of his talking we seem to see Shakespeare yawning as he wrote
A.C.Bradley – Shakespearean Tragedy, 1904 – Coriolanus’ nature his nature is large, simple, and passionate…but not, in any marked sense, imaginative
T.S.Eliot – Hamlet and his Problems, 1920 Coriolanus may not be as ‘interesting’ as Hamlet, but it is Shakespeare’s most assured artistic success
A.P.Rossiter – Angel with Horns, 1961 – Coriolanus about power Coriolanus is about power: about State, or the State, about order in society and the forces of disorder which threaten it
A.P.Rossiter – Angel with Horns, 1961 – Coriolanus about conflict it is about conflict, not in personal but in political life, and the conflict of classes
Jan Kott – Shakespeare Our Contemporary, 1965 – the dryness of the play in Coriolanus there is no enchanting poetry, no music of the spheres; there are no great lovers, superb clowns; no raging elements, or monsters conceived in the imagination…There is only historical chronicle, dry as bone, though violently dramatised. There is also a monumentalised hero, who can rouse all sorts of emotions, but never sympathy
Jan Kott – Shakespeare Our Contemporary, 1965 – the people in Coriolanus the people in Coriolanus are stupid and ignorant; they stink and collect stinking rags on battlefields. The tribunes are small, deformed and deceitful. Coriolanus is brave, great and noble. But the people are Rome, and Coriolanus is a traitor to his country
G.K.Hunter – The Last Tragic Heroes, 1966 – pressure on Coriolanus to pursue politics like Macbeth Coriolanus feels the pressure to pursue a political course which runs against his natural individuality
G.K.Hunter – The Last Tragic Heroes, 1966 – Volumnia and Virgilia Volumnia sees the home as a parade ground for training in leadership; the pressure of her love is always exercised for a political end. One might allow that Virgilia is unswayed by public interests; but it is notorious that Virgilia is the most ineffectual character in the play
G.K.Hunter – The Last Tragic Heroes, 1966 – Coriolanus and dehumanisation, compared to other characters from other plays Coriolanus, like Timon and like Macbeth, searches for an absolute mode of behaviour, and like them he finds it; but the finding of it is the destruction of humanity in him
G.K.Hunter – The Last Tragic Heroes, 1966 – compromise and refusal we see society’s repeated offers of compromise from his viewpoint, and we recognise that he owes it to his absoluteness to refuse them
Aristotle – the capability of living in a society he that is incapable of living in a society is either a god or a beast
Joyce Van Dyke Reading of Coriolanus (1977) Coriolanus is unable to adequately articulate his thoughts verbally, which leads him to rely on a sequence of easily misinterpreted gestures that ultimately fail to convey his true intentions and contribute to his solitude, banishment and political failure
Ruth Franklin – Revisiting Shakespeare’s ‘Coriolanus’, 2012 – Coriolanus’ defining characteristic Coriolanus’ defining characteristic is his utter inability to compromise, ever.
Nancy Carolyn Michael (1978) Reading Although he attempts to define himself through his personal integrity, he instead projects an image of overweening pride
Anonymous Critical Opinion – effect of letting others define his identity Because he has allowed others, especially his mother, to define his identity, his struggle to maintain the integrity he values so highly can only run into defeat
John Bligh (1987) Reading Coriolanus’ unswerving devotion to a set of aristocratic ideals and an inflexible belief in honour that, by the end of the drama, degrades into an amoral desire for simple vengeance
Anonymous Critical Opinion – the effect of his intensity his intensity is inevitably self-destructive
Vivian Thomas (1989) Reading although Coriolanus’ personal characteristics – his courage, integrity, and unbending will – prove valuable on the field of battle, these same characteristics have a contrary effect on his domestic role as Roman consul
Anonymous Critical Reading – warrior vs politician as a warrior, he is unbeatable, but as a politician, Coriolanus is unelectable
Reading from Shakespeare’s Coriolanus: For a Time Starved of Political Ideals – embodiment of military honour Coriolanus is the embodiment of military honour, judging and acting solely according to military values
Ruth Franklin – Revisiting Shakespeare’s ‘Coriolanus’, 2012 – Coriolanus does nothing ‘truly wrong’ Uniquely among Shakespeare’s tragic figures, this war hero turned disgraced politician does nothing truly wrong: he is punished without having committed a crime. In fact, his worst fault might be his refusal to speak anything less than exactly what he believes
Ruth Franklin – Revisiting Shakespeare’s ‘Coriolanus’, 2012 – influence of Shakespeare’s opinion of Coriolanus Shakespeare’s sympathies are clearly with Coriolanus, and therefore so are ours
SparkNotes Critical Analysis Though structurally sound, its characters are not multi-dimensional, and it lacks both the great poetic strength and the capacity to surprise that the best of the tragedies possess
Reading from Shakespeare’s Coriolanus: For a Time Starved of Political Ideals – look into the heart of every public figure Shakespeare dramatises a conflict at the heart of every public figure at what it means o serve in public office, and the private war between personal integrity and popularity
Page duBois Reading The play is a critique of matriarchal power embodied in a disturbing psychological presence of Volumnia and her emotional manipulation of Coriolanus