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Coriolanus

Coriolanus

Language and Communication Quotes

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Quote #1

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No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away! (1.1.13)

The Roman Citizens (a.k.a. plebeians) aren't exactly known for their eloquence. When the play opens, they're ready to tear Caius Martius (Coriolanus) limb from limb and they don't want to waste a lot of time talking about it. On the one hand, we could say that their unwillingness to have some sort of dialogue suggests that they are disorganized, violent, and out of control. On the other hand, they're starving. Maybe they have no choice but to stop talking and take action. What do you think?

Quote #2

SCINIUS

Sir, the people
Must have their voices; neither will they bate
One jot of ceremony. (2.2.139-141)

There sure is a lot of talk about the common people's "voices," a.k.a. votes. This makes sense in theory, because having a voice / right to vote means having a say in how the government is run. Of course, the plebeians don't have much of a say at all. They're virtually powerless—unless they take to the streets.

Quote #3

MARTIUS

Thanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,
That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?

Citizen

We have ever your good word.

MARTIUS

He that will give good words to thee will flatter
Beneath abhorring. (1.1.164-168)

Ever heard the expression "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?" Apparently, Coriolanus hasn't. The first thing out of his mouth in this play is a string of nasty insults hurled at the plebeians. And did you notice the Citizen's smart-alecky response? ("We have ever your good word.") That basically means that the plebs are totally used to Coriolanus insulting them. We also see here that Coriolanus is completely unapologetic for talking trash. In fact, he insists that anyone who gives "good words" (speaks kindly) to the plebeians is full of baloney.

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