Category Archives: Coriolanus

Coriolanus: a sword-pull at the point of no return

Using Professor Rodes’ midpoint theory, let’s take a look at Coriolanus.

There are 3323 lines in in the play, which means the midpoint is at line 1662, or at Act Three, Scene One, line 224. According to Dr. Rodes’ theory, you could find at this midpoint–or within twenty lines either way–a speech that perfectly sums up a major theme of the play (the 20-line leeway was to help remove the differences in prose line lengths between individual editions).

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Volumnia’s last word (economy-sized)

OK, last week, I looked at Martius’ big speech (and we’ve already taken a look at the homo-erotic response to it, the longest speech by Aufidius) from Coriolanus. Today, let’s take a look at the longest speech of the play, this one by dear ol’ mum, Volumnia. There’s some pretty interesting stuff going on in the scansion (as well as a stage direction or two).

It’s Act Five, Scene Three, in the Volscian camp on the outskirts of Rome, where Martius and Aufidius ready their armies for the attack. Martius has already turned away Menenius (who seemed like a father-figure to him), and Martius has admitted doing so “cracked” (V.iii.9) his heart.

So who should walk in at this moment?

Continue reading Volumnia’s last word (economy-sized)

Podcast 150: Coriolanus: bawdy, homosociality, homo-eroticism, more [NOT EXPLICIT]


[WARNING: The first portion of the following podcast contains no adult language, almost no sexual imagery, and nothing to make you say, “Man, that’s a dirty play.” You HAVE been warned. You really don’t need to skip this one…]

This week’s podcast continues our discussion of Coriolanus with a look at bawdy in the play (and there’s not a whole lot there there), homosociality, homo-eroticism, and a real mother of a character, as well as shameless self-promotion.

Continue reading Podcast 150: Coriolanus: bawdy, homosociality, homo-eroticism, more [NOT EXPLICIT]

Coriolanus: anxious and calm

OK, when most people think of the most famous speeches in Shakespeare, they usually go to the soliloquies (Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” [and yes, I know it may not be a soliloquy], Richard III’s “Now is the winter of our discontent,” Lady M’s “Unsex me here,” and the like), so what about in Coriolanus?

Well, there we have a problem, Houston…there’s only one soliloquy in the play.

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When homosociality meets homo-eroticism

Last week, I talked a little about both homosociality and homo-eroticism in Coriolanus. We see some military-based quasi-male-bonding within armies and across armies within the same rank (between Martius and Aufidius. But there’s nothing erotic in those exchanges and bonds. We also see some pretty highly charged homo-erotic imagery in that Aufidius speech responding to Martius’ defection.

But there didn’t seem to be too great a connection.

Notice I said, “didn’t.”

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Coriolanus: Bawdy (heh, heh, the title has “anus” in it)


First of all, there’s not a whole lot of bawdy in Coriolanus. Eric Partridge, the author of the great Shakespeare’s Bawdy, sums it up: “possesses a few more particularities than Macbeth, yet, in its general effect, even less ‘objectionable’” (Shakespeare’s Bawdy, Partridge, Eric. New York: Routledge Classics, 2001; page 47), and he called Macbeth the purist of the tragedies. So as a cop on the bawdy beat, I’m almost tempted to wave you off, and say, “Move along, nothing to see here…”

Almost. But that would be shirking my duty… (heh heh, he said, “duty”…)

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In the last couple of months, I’ve been taking a Masters-level course in Shakespeare, in which I wrote a lengthy paper on cuckoldry and the male anxiety caused by the fear of it in both Much Ado About Nothing and Othello. It turned out pretty well. More importantly, though, is that is introduced to me a sociological concept called homosociality. Basically, it’s same-sex relationships–loving, caring, mentoring, supportive–but not romantic or erotic in nature. The link I drew in the paper was between the fear of female sexuality and how the men’s previous homosocial bond through the military made it easier for them to accuse the females of adultery. Maybe the whole homosociality thing has been on my mind, but I see it in Coriolanus as well.

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Oh, what a muthah…

OK, I mentioned that the Fiennes film of Coriolanus seemed to accentuate a certain Oedipal reading in the production, especially in a scene following Martius’ return from Corioles. Volumnia lovingly bandages his wounds in the bathroom, sharing a quiet, almost whispered conversation; when his wife Virgilia walks in on them, they turn and look at her, and she wordlessly leaves the room, closing the door for their privacy.

Of course, I wouldn’t exactly call that Oedipal. But there’s something there…

Continue reading Oh, what a muthah…

Podcast 149: Coriolanus – video reviews, popularity, and the people…


This week’s podcast continues our discussion of Coriolanus with some video reviews, as well as discussions of popularity and the people….

Continue reading Podcast 149: Coriolanus – video reviews, popularity, and the people…