Nature teaches beasts to know their friends
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.
‘T is the time’s plague, when madmen lead the blind.
The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most; we that are young
Shall never see too much, nor live so long”
Brief Overview – Lear has been an extremely successful English king in medieval times, but is now ready for a more peaceful life. He devises a cock-and-bull method of dividing his empire amongst his three daughters. Whoever declares their love most fervently gets the most. The two older daughters take hyperbole to a new level and declare their undying affection for him, while the youngest, Cordelia, refuses to lie in such a manner. She says that she loves her father as a daughter should. Lear is angry, disowns her (though she still marries the King of France) and suffering ensues.