first, Valeria, then Coriolanus' son a 'poor epitome' (ll.68-70). Nevertheless, Coriolanus is steadfast - 'Do not bid me / Dismiss me soldiers, or capitulate / Again with Rome's mechanics' (ll.81-3). Volumnia reveals her dilemma - Coriolanus or Rome:'...either thou
Must as a foreign recreant be led
With manacles through our streets, or else
Triumphantly tread through on thy country's ruin,
And bear the palm for having bravely shed
Thy wife's and children's blood'
She has been force to choose her country before her son; and Volumnia realises a similar appeal will be fruitless with Coriolanus. Thus Volumnia emphasises the consequences of his destruction of Rome in narrow, familial terms, rather than those of high politics or mass slaughter and destruction. Therefore if Volumnia fails to dissuade Coriolanus, he must trample over her to march on Rome. Virgilia echoes Volumnia - 'Ay, and mine, / That brought you forth this boy to keep your name / Living to time' (ll.125-7).
Coriolanus moves to leave, but is prevented from doing so by a lengthy speech by Volumnia. We see now that not only does she strive to turn her son around, but that in order to do so she had undergone a crucial shift in attitude. Now she proclaims, 'Thou know'st great son, / The end of war's uncertain'. Volumnia needs not any help from her companions - hence she tells Virgilia 'He cares not for your weeping' (l.156). Though this is rhetorical, intended to touch Coriolanus. The hero attempts to leave a second time, and Volumnia now falls to her knees before him. Secretly sure she has succeeded, Volumnia asks to be dismissed and concludes her visit with the lines - 'I am husht until our city be afire, / And then I'll speak a little.' Coriolanus remains silent, before proclaiming, 'Behold, the heavens do ope, / The gods look down, and this unnatural scene / they laugh at, O my mother, mother!' The last line reflects Coriolanus' innermost anguish and turmoil. The scene is unnatural in part because Volumnia kneels before her son; more so perhaps is the fact that Coriolanus has now gone against his own nature to bring fire and wrath upon Rome and has yielded to the embassy of women. It is here that Coriolanus takes on the stature of the tragic hero; he turns now to Aufidius and promises 'though I cannot make true wars / I'll frame convenient peace' (ll.190-1). Though Aufidius says he 'was mov'd withal' by the scene, secretly he relishes the new found opportunity to exploit Coriolanus' weaknesses.Act V, scene iv
Back in Rome, Menenius assures the Tribunes that the embassy of women will prove futile in dissuading Coriolanus from attacking Rome. The audience already knows that Coriolanus has given up his determination to subdue Rome to his vengeance, and are led to wonder if the Tribunes will take political gain from Coriolanus' capitulation. There follows the juxtaposition of the destructive force of Coriolanus, and his love for his mother. Menenius speaks of Coriolanus developing 'from man to dragon', recalling the associations of Act IV.
The power and force of Coriolanus is emphasised during the discussion in Rome. Coriolanus 'moves like an engine' (echoing Cominius before the Senate in II.ii), he is godlike (culminating earlier references: III.i, IV.vi and V.iii), and described as 'a thing made for Alexander' - not only an image of the Greek Conqueror, but also a dehumanised thing (II.ii, IV.v, IV.vi).
Menenius' sense of imminent doom for Rome heightens with the arrival of a messenger who announces Brutus has been taken by the people, who threaten to kill him if the embassy of women fails. A second messenger arrives to announce the success of Volumnia's journey to her son.Act V, scene v
A brief scene occurs in which Shakespeare shows us the reception of the embassy of women on their return to Rome from the Volscian army camp. The scene provides an opportunity for a show of pageantry and further, serves as a parallel to Coriolanus' return from victory against the Volscians in Act II and his fate in the following scene. The irony is made all the more acute by the political success the patricians take from Volumnia's successful embassy.Act V, scene vi
It is uncertain whether the action takes place in Antium or Corioli. Drawing on envy, and now provided with the pretext of Coriolanus' treachery, Aufidius conspires against the hero. Aufidius presents his conspiracy to the nobles as Coriolanus is still hero-worshipped by the citizens - their attitude at variance with that of the Roman citizens. Aufidius is amazed that the people cheer Coriolanus as he enters the city. Coriolanus' speech
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