The speech patterns of "Coriolanus" reveal the title character's psychological turmoil. Churning with self-doubt about his determination, his relationship with those around him, and his relationship with his mother, Coriolanus is a man at the mercy of his environment. The environment that shapes Coriolanus is the instruction he receives from his mother Volumnia.1 In his relationship with his mother, Coriolanus plays the weak and subservient role. Volumnia's treatment of Coriolanus during his childhood and later, when he is an adult, profoundly molds Coriolanus. Even when absent in scenes, Coriolanus's mother acts as an invisible force, shaping Coriolanus's interactions with other characters in the play. Volumnia's desires and ways of speaking manifest themselves in Coriolanus's valor and also in his stubbornness. Coriolanus attempts to recreate the relationship between himself and his mother with other characters and groups in the play. However, when he recreates this relationship with others, he reverses his role in the relationship by making himself the dominant party.
The way Volumnia speaks to Coriolanus illustrates her dominant position in their relationship. Volumnia speaks unlike the other women in the play. Her language conveys the disposition of a warrior and is filled with references to death and blood. In her description of how she raised Coriolanus, she speaks of blood: "The breasts of Hecuba/ When she did suckle Hector looked not lovelier/ Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood/ At Grecian sword, contemning." (1.3.37-40). Volumnia unlike Coriolanus's wife, Virgilia, does not seem content to stay at home and sew. With great enthusias...
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Adelman, Janet. "'Anger's My Meat': Feeding, Dependency and Aggression in Coriolanus ." In Representing Shakespeare: New Psychoanalytic Essays. ed. Murray Schwartz and Coppelia Kahn, 129-150. Baltimore, 1980.
Barton, Ann. "Livy, Machiavelli, and Shakespeare's Coriolanus ." In William Shakespeare's Coriolanus, ed. Harold Bloom, 123- 147. New York, 1988.
Barzilai, Shuli (1991). Shakespeare's Coriolanus and the Compulsion to Repeat. Hebrew Univ. Studies in Lit. 19: 85-105.
Cavell, Stanley. (1985). Who does the wolf love? Coriolanus and the interpretation of politics. In Parker, P. & Hartman, G. (ed.), Shakespeare and the question of theory. New York: Methuen.
Shakespeare, William. Coriolanus , ed. John Dover Wilson. Cambridge, 1969.
Jagendorf, Zvi. (1990). Coriolanus: body politic and private parts. Shakespeare Quarterly, 41(4), pp. 455-469.
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