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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
Coriolanus's Hamartia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0409  Monday, 8 May 2006

From: 		Larry Weiss <
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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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Hardy M. Cook, 
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