The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0409 Monday, 8 May 2006
From: Larry Weiss <
Date: Friday, 05 May 2006 15:31:14 -0400
Subject: Coriolanus's Hamartia
The "Characterization" thread has segued from a metadiscussion of the
function of SHAKSPER to the varying uses of character analysis to
particular characterizations. Thus, L. Swilley says:
>Coriolanus' flaw is his conviction that the citizens should
>have no voice in the polity; they are, he maintains, curs
>that must be muzzled and whipped into submission, or at
>least treated as soldiers in his army where the governed
>have, of necessity, no voice in military decisions.
Since this is too specific a comment for the general "Characterization"
thread, I suggest a new discussion if anyone is interested.
I beg to differ with Mr. Swilley. A tragic flaw is not the same thing
as a political opinion. Coriolanus suffered the consequences of
overweening pride and arrogance. His political views, which undoubtedly
were influenced by his hubris, could as easily have led him to demagogue
the rabble as insult them, were it not that his arrogance inhibited him
from pretending a humility he did not have.
Note, I am not raising a question as to the wellspring of Marcius's
pride or even whether he was proud, arrogant, undemocratic, etc. I take
the text as given, and disagree with Mr. Swilley only on the nature of
hamartia in general -- it is the internal flaw, not the outward
consequences it leads to.
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