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Coriolanus Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. If you were Coriolanus' campaign manager, what advice would you give him about running for public office? If Coriolanus were your campaign manager, what advice would he give you?
  2. If Sicinius and Brutus were going to design a commercial slash attack ad urging voters not to support Coriolanus' campaign for consul, what would it look like?
  3. Why do you think the ruthless dictator in The Hunger Games is named "Coriolanus Snow"? (Did we just give the answer away?)
  4. " Coriolanus may be not as 'interesting' as Hamlet, but it is [...] Shakespeare's most assured artistic success" (source). Or, so says T.S. Eliot. What does he mean? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
  5. Seriously, what's up with Coriolanus and his mom? Discuss our hero's psychological relationship with his mother. How does it shape
  6. Coriolanus' attitudes and actions in this play? Do you agree with critics who say Volumnia causes Coriolanus' downfall?
  7. Check out Ralph Fiennes' 2011 film Coriolanus and discuss the director's decision to place the action in a contemporary setting, with tanks and artillery instead of old-school weapons and stuff. Do you think this works? Why or why not?
  8. Can this play teach us anything about the way contemporary political campaigns are run? Based on this play, what—if anything—has changed about politics in the last 400 years?
  9. What do Coriolanus and Shakespeare's other Roman hero, Julius Caesar, have in common? (Aside from the fact that they both get stabbed to death by a bunch of conspirators.)
  10. How does Coriolanus portray the power struggle between the plebeians and the patricians? Does the play ever take sides? Is the play critical of the lower classes? Sympathetic? Some combination of both?
  11. Explain Menenius' "fable of the belly." Why does he tell this fable? How does the little story speak to some larger themes and issues in the play?
  12. What causes Coriolanus' downfall? (Is it just one person or thing?)
  13. How would you characterize the relationship between Coriolanus and Tullus Aufidius? Why are these dudes so obsessed with each other?

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