What’s Up With the Ending?
SPOILER ALERT. You've been officially warned.
After arranging a peace treaty between Rome and the Volscians, Coriolanus returns to the city of Corioles, where he's accused of treason and killed. Just like that. No trial. No judge. No jury. A group of Conspirators just stab him to death in public, kind of like what happens to Shakespeare's other Roman hero, Julius Caesar.)
So, yeah. Not exactly the big hero's welcome Coriolanus was probably hoping for. And, it's definitely not how a big military hero like Coriolanus probably imagines himself going out. Truth be told, the ending for Coriolanus so abrupt that a lot of readers are completely turned off by the play's big finish.
But we're not really surprised. After all, this is a Shakespearean tragedy and no tragic hero ever makes it out of a tragedy alive. (At least not in Shakespeare's plays. Go talk to Hamlet if you don't believe us—or Lear or Macbeth or Othello. Oh wait. You can't, because they're.)
So, this is not so great for Coriolanus or any characters who ever cared about him (read: his wife and friends), but there's some good news. Sure, I stinks that Coriolanus is dead, but he's much saved Rome from getting completely wiped out by the Volscians. As we know, the Roman Republic will go on to become one of the greatest Empires of all time. (Before it eventually crashes and burns, of course.)
It turns out that this kind of ending is pretty typical of this genre. Despite the death of the hero, Shakespeare's tragedies usually promise to restore political order at the end of the play. Coriolanus does exactly that.