E211 Fall 2010 Students' Blog

Danielle Edison on Shakespeare's Coriolanus, Act 3

Published by admin_main on Wed 29 Sep, 2010


In Act 3, Scene 3, how and why does Caius Martius fail in his attempt to temporize with the plebeians (common people) now that he has lost their favor? What do Brutus and Sicinius have to do with Caius’ failure?

At first Caius Martius or Coriolanus didn’t want to change his character in order to be desirable for the mob. However, his mom, Volumnia and Menenius told him that he should make peace with the people and apologize for what he said about him earlier in the play. They thought that the mob might forgive him and see him as a good consul. So, he planned on doing just that. Despite what Brutus and Sicinius said earlier about Coriolanus being a worthy consul, they decided they were going to try and make Coriolanus lose his temper in front of the crowd. So, while Coriolanus talked about his great courage and defeat in the battle, Sicnius says, “We charge you that you contrived to take from Rome all seasoned office and to wind yourself into a power tyrannical, for which you are a traitor.” (lines 83-86) Having been accused of tyrannizing the Roman state Coriolanus loses his temper and screams, “the fires I’ th’ lowest hell fold in people! Call me their traitor? Thou injurious tribune!” The people of Rome become angry and with the people’s support Brutus and Sicinius banish Coriolanus form the city.

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