Character: Volumnia

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Critical Analysis of the character of Volumnia In the tragedy of Coriolanus Volumnia is a highly significant character not only to Coriolanus as a person but the whole plot of the play in general. Volumnia is the epitome of a powerful woman in a male-dominant society; she is strong-willed, ambitious, intelligent, persuasive, politically-minded and influential. As a mother she is encouraging and full of praise but at times she can be domineering and manipulative. Shakespeare uses Volumnia to build up on the character of Coriolanus before his audience but it is arguable that she is also the one to bring him down in the end. First of all, she has the attributes of an overbearing parent. She pushes her son toward attaining success even when it is against his character and when he is even more unwilling; especially during the election for consulship. It can be said that a mother always wants best for her child but in the case of Volumnia it is ironic that she puts her own ambitions first before her son’s safety and happiness whereas, the audience would expect the latter to be more important. In Act 1 Scene 3, Volumnia’s speech represents that of a mother who thrives on her son’s triumphs. She says that ‘I should freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he won honor than in the embracements of his bed where he would show most love”. Volumnia is a highly ambitious and tactical woman that she would employ any means possible to achieve her goal whether it be by sweetly persuading or manipulating Coriolanus. Volumnia persuades him to humble himself to the plebeians in Act 3 scene 2 “ I prithee now, my son, go to them, with this bonnet in thy hand…here be with them”. In a more severe situation she begs for Coriolanus not to destroy Rome where she kneels “unproperly “ and asks young Martius to do the same. Her actions are in contrast to Virgilia who is full of remorse in
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