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Coriolanus
Coriolanus
by William Shakespeare

Coriolanus as Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis Plot

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type :

Anticipation Stage

Booker writes that in this stage, "the hero is in some way incomplete and unfulfilled and his thoughts are turned towards the future in hope of some unusual gratification. Some object of desire or course of action presents itself, and his energies have found a focus."

Coriolanus is a little odd, because it seems like the hero's real journey doesn't begin until about halfway through the play. Finally, Coriolanus decides he wants to get revenge after being exiled from his home. Once this happens, he goes on the warpath and sets out to destroy Rome.

Dream Stage

In this stage, Booker says that the hero "becomes in some way committed to his course of action[...] and for a while things go almost improbably well for the hero. He is winning the gratification he had dreamed of, and seems to be 'getting away with it'."

Yep, sounds about right. Coriolanus seems pretty pleased with himself when he teams up with the Volscians and slaps together a super army to destroy Rome. But this "dream stage" won't last long.

Frustration Stage

According to Booker, this is when "almost imperceptibly things begin to go wrong. The hero cannot find a point of rest. He begins to experience a sense of frustration, and in order to secure his position may feel compelled to further 'dark acts' which lock him into his course of action even more irrevocably. A 'shadow figure' may appear at this point, seeming in some obscure way to threaten him."

Let's see: things are hunky dory for Coriolanus as he and his new army pals head toward Rome and destroy everything in their path. But then his old pal Menenius shows up just outside of Rome and is all "Hey, pretty please don't kill us!" Ugh. All a guy wants to do is sack Rome, you know?

Nightmare Stage

Booker tells us that, in this stage, "things are now slipping seriously out of the hero's control. He has a mounting sense of threat and despair. Forces of opposition and fate are closing in on him."

Coriolanus tries to be all hard core when his family begs him not to destroy Rome but what's the guy supposed to do? Demolish his own family? Coriolanus gives in and agrees to a peace treaty, even though he'll be in super big trouble for doing it.

Destruction or Death Wish Stage

Here's what Booker says happens to the hero in the final stage of a tragedy: "either by the forces he has aroused against him, or by some final act of violence which precipitates his own death (e.g., murder or suicide), the hero is destroyed."

And … yeah. When Coriolanus agrees to show Rome some mercy, he pretty much signs his own death warrant. When he returns to the Volscian city of Corioles, he's accused of treason and killed. Bummer.

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