Macbeth Masculinity In Coriolanus

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We can observe these untraditional gender roles in Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus to a similar extent. Like Macbeth, Coriolanus seems to perfectly embody masculinity at first glance. However, examining his behavior provides a first indication of his incomplete manhood. From the first scene, he displays stubbornness and impatience throughout the discussion with the plebeians, for instance by insulting them as "curs" (1.1.179). This continual balky behavior can also be witnessed when he reacts to his banishment as follows: You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate As reek o' th' rotten fens, whose loves I prize As the dead carcasses of unburied men That do corrupt my air, I banish you! (3.3.150-153) Coriolanus responses most notably with…show more content…
In this case, it is first of all the power over himself that is lacking. As per Dittmann, Coriolanus is "dependent on the order of the Other" (664), particularly of that of his mother who makes the final decision of not attacking Rome for him. The fact that someone of the weaker sex can argue him out of something reinforces the degree of this and makes it even more contradictory to the self-sufficiency and powerfulness expected of men at the time in question. We have established before that death can be seen as the absolute loss of power for Macbeth, which is strikingly relevant for Coriolanus as well. Smith expands this idea, referring to his death as "an act of emasculation" (16). However, in Coriolanus this assumes a greater dimension, as his final death is contrasted to the acknowledgement and hailing of Volumnia's mastery. Furthermore, Shakespeare's demonstration of Coriolanus does not go hand in hand with the tradition of men embracing political power. Wells remarks a "political ineptitude" (145), and as a matter of fact, Coriolanus has no interest in being elected consul of Rome (2.1.215-222). He is even linked to a feminine sphere when Martius addresses him as "flower of warriors" (1.6.33.), as flowers are usually associated with beauty, elegance and fineness. Moreover, Coriolanus himself uses the terms "harlot" and…show more content…
This is valid for his physical masculinity as well as for his inner manhood. He has suck what defines his masculinity from her: "Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck'st it from me" (3.2.129). Therefore, masculinity is originating from a woman in this play. Humphrey confirms this female condition for masculinity: "For all of Coriolanus’s masculinity, it still takes Volumnia’s masculine influence to coach him on these roles." This does not only mean that his manhood is not a parameter he can avail himself of the way he would like to and does not really belong to him, but also that it is a woman who has control over it what makes it hers. Volumnia raised him to be a
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