top of page
  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Elisa


Updated: Aug 15, 2021

Setting: 494-490 BCE

Rome, Italy


My really abridged plot summary: Caius Martius is an incredible warrior. He pretty much single-handedly pushed the Volscians and Aufidius back from Rome. Upon his return, he is nicknamed Coriolanus for his achievements. His mother, Volumnia, pressures him to run for consul. He's a mamma's boy so he begrudgingly agrees to it. This whole time, two Tribunes are conspiring against him (pure chaos) and don't look upon Coriolanus favorably when he acts like he's above the system of election. He is arrogant and quick to anger, so when the Tribunes bait him, he goes into a personal rage and is condemned and banished for it. Lacking the same inner turmoil that Shakespeare's other tragic heroes have, he decides in this moment that he will burn Rome to the ground. Exiled from Rome, Coriolanus aligns with Aufidius and they prepare to march on Rome. Rome, in a panic, sends Coriolanus' friends and family as #damagecontrol and to try to talk him out of the attack. Volumnia succeeds in convincing him to try and make peace between Rome and the Volscians. When Coriolanus returns to Antium (where the Volscians are), Aufidius says Coriolanus betrayed him and (you guessed it) he flies into a rage.The conspirators stab Coriolanus, killing him. The End.

My favorite quotes:

There is a world elsewhere

~Coriolanus, III.iii

Anger is my meat; I sup upon myself,

And so shall starve with feeding

~Volumnia, IV.ii


  • Overall Impression: 9- This play is very different from Shakespeare's other tragedies, but it's so well-executed that I would rank it up among the greats.

  • Use of Language: 8- I think the language in this piece is exceptional. Menenius spits words of wisdom while Brutus and Sicinius have a great shared-line dynamic. Volumnia is a master with words.

  • Protagonist Arc: 10- Okay hear me out. Yes, Coriolanus is arrogant but his arrogance is written so well. It is apparent by his frustration by praise that he is so arrogant that he cares little for the opinions of others, he is so self-assured. Arrogance is not a quality that other Shakespearean heroes lack, but perhaps what distinguishes Coriolanus from the others is his lack of inner turmoil. He gets only a small number of soliloquies, which are generally used to share the inner feelings with the audience. Because of this, audiences find him unsympathetic which is not usually something you want for your hero. I give his arc a 10/10 because while he is not a fan-favorite character, he was written with such specificity and intentionality.

  • Female Characters: 7- Volumnia is a powerhouse and V.iii is beautiful. I wish his wife, Virgilia, had more stage time or more dialogue. I think she was underutilized.

  • Genre Fit: 10- The way Volumnia is able to sway Coriolanus and save Rome, and then he goes home and is slain by his ally. Wow the betrayal is brutal and tragic. AND it ends with Volumnia being praised while her son is killed.

  • Overall Enjoyment: 9- Compared to other plays, there was a lot of actual violence on stage in this show. I'm a big fan of #bloodonstage and I know staged versions of this show have plenty of that!!

  • Hype Worthy: 8- I think this play is so underrated, but at the same time I understand why this show is not produced as much. Audiences prefer sympathetic heroes and Coriolanus is not that. It's also very politics heavy and kind of convoluted.

  • Emotional Impact: 10- I knew that this was a tragedy (and that Coriolanus dies) and Volumnia talking Coriolanus out of the attack on Rome was too happy of an ending, but that didn't prepare me for that heart-breaker of a final scene.

Total: 71/80

Average: 8

*5 out of 5 stars*

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page