A Marxist Reading of Shakespeare's Coriolanus Essay examples

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A Marxist Reading of Coriolanus One popular dissecting instrument of any Shakespearean character is the modern tool of psychoanalysis. Many of Shakespeare's great tragic heroes-Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear, and Othello, to name a few-have all been understood by this method of plying back and interpreting the layers of motivation and desire that constitute every individual. Add to this list Shakespeare's Roman warrior Coriolanus. His strong maternal ties coupled with his aggressive and intractable nature have been ideal fodder for modern psychoanalytic interpretation. This interpretation, however, falls within a larger, political context. For despite the fact that Coriolanus is a tragedy largely because of the foibles of its title…show more content…
Marxism, essentially, is a theory of the proletarian liberation movement. This theory is dialectic in that society is seen as a composition of contraries (e.g., rich vs. poor), and that what makes humanity evolve is the struggle between these contraries. The triumph of one over the other produces change. Change, however, is resisted by the ruling class because most, if not all, of the wealth is concentrated in their hands; they in turn control the means of production, allowing them to exploit the workers for their own ends and widen the gap between the rich and poor even more in the process. This situation produces alienation in the worker; it deprives him of something, and this is not only degrading but depersonalizing as well (Appignanesi, 79). From this perspective, Menenius' fable of the belly is clearly fallacious and intended to instill a false state of consciousness in his listeners. The tale deflects the cause of the plebeians hunger from the patricians right back at the plebeians themselves: ... For the dearth, The gods, not the patricians, make it, and Your knees to them, not arms, must help (I.i.63-65). Modern capitalist apologists use much the same argument as this, only instead of directing the working class to pray to the gods to better their lot in life, they

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