When in Rome, Do as Coriolanus Doesn't

Particularly interesting in a genre that by its definition is meant to be a crowd-pleaser, Shakespeare's play Coriolanus provides a protagonist who is not particularly likeable. Constantly insulting in his speech, prideful and short-tempered, Coriolanus, unlike his mother Volumnia, is neither able nor willing to accommodate political necessities in Rome. His shortcoming may be viewed as a character fault, or simply a product of his culture.

There is evidence that Coriolanus is not able to compromise, equivocate, or be diplomatic simply by his very nature. He would have us believe that it is his unfailing love of the truth that prevents him from any sort of political accommodation. To pander to the plebeians, show off his scars, or even withhold his tongue would be somehow dishonorable. This may be an element in his reticence, but it cannot be everything, for as Volumnia points out, he is completely willing to use less-than-honest strategy in warfare, such as by saying false niceties to win over a town that otherwise would be a tough battle and cost many lives. Coriolanus knows how to be diplomatic; he simply refuses to be so in the political sphere.

Nonetheless, there are other factors that may explain his shortcoming. For...

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