Shakespeare’s Coriolanus Analysis: Fallacy, Faction, and Honesty

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Nature teaches beasts to know their friends
-Coriolanus, Shakespeare

Background and Overview – Coriolanus is based on a Roman legend, which in turn was probably grounded in some truth. A few years prior to the events in the story, the last Roman king was overthrown by a group of Roman patricians (including Coriolanus) and the Roman Republic was established. With the balance of power disrupted, factions developed among the patricians (nobles) and the plebeians (commoners), with the latter group fighting for, and slowly gaining, more power. In the midst of the political conflict, famine stuck, but the patricians denied the poors’ cries for free (or near- free) corn.

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Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Analysis: Ambiguity, Theatrum Mundi, Stoicism

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It’s the bright day that brings forth the adder
-Julius Caesar

Intro – Julius Caesar is different from other tragedies such as King Lear or Hamlet in that the tragic hero is not immediately clear, though it does have one. It is a more nuanced and ambiguous work, with each character being both good and bad. And while JC is a political commentary, reflecting the worries of civil war and succession in Shakespeare’s own times, it’s also peppered with philosophical reflections. The first time you read it, it may strike you as a “cold” tragedy, as Samuel Johnson said, due to this ambiguity and its less-quotable lines, but ultimately, I found it more enjoyable because of this initial impenetrability.

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