Coriolanus by William Shakespeare: Summary Act 5

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Source: Coriolanus by William Shakespeare: Summary Act 5



Coriolanus Act 5 sc. 6 Thinking points

Aufidius’s anger and regret at Coriolanus’s actions:

That I would have spoke of:
Being banish’d for’t, he came unto my hearth;
Presented to my knife his throat: I took him;
Made him joint-servant with me; gave him way
In all his own desires; nay, let him choose
Out of my files, his projects to accomplish,
My best and freshest men; served his designments
In mine own person; holp to reap the fame
Which he did end all his; and took some pride
To do myself this wrong: till, at the last,
I seem’d his follower, not partner, and
He waged me with his countenance, as if
I had been mercenary.

Coriolanus feels that he has achieved a certain victory:

Hail, lords! I am return’d your soldier,
No more infected with my country’s love
Than when I parted hence, but still subsisting
Under your great command. You are to know
That prosperously I have attempted and
With bloody passage led your wars even to
The gates of Rome. Our spoils we have brought home
Do more than counterpoise a full third part
The charges of the action. We have made peace
With no less honour to the Antiates
Than shame to the Romans: and we here deliver,
Subscribed by the consuls and patricians,
Together with the seal o’ the senate, what
We have compounded on.

Aufidius is mocking and patronising about Coriolanus’s decisions and their cause:

Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius: dost thou think
I’ll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol’n name
Coriolanus in Corioli?
You lords and heads o’ the state, perfidiously
He has betray’d your business, and given up,
For certain drops of salt, your city Rome,
I say ‘your city,’ to his wife and mother;
Breaking his oath and resolution like
A twist of rotten silk, never admitting
Counsel o’ the war, but at his nurse’s tears
He whined and roar’d away your victory,
That pages blush’d at him and men of heart
Look’d wondering each at other.

Coriolanus’s attitude about his achievements. Consider That initially he did not like to boast about his military successes:

Cut me to pieces, Volsces; men and lads,
Stain all your edges on me. Boy! false hound!
If you have writ your annals true, ’tis there,
That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I
Flutter’d your Volscians in Corioli:
Alone I did it. Boy!

The concept of the Tragic Hero and Aufidius’s regret:

My rage is gone;
And I am struck with sorrow. Take him up.
Help, three o’ the chiefest soldiers; I’ll be one.
Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully:
Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he
Hath widow’d and unchilded many a one,
Which to this hour bewail the injury,
Yet he shall have a noble memory. Assist.

When I heard the Learn’d astronomer

Walt Whitman

Mere numbers, charts, and diagrams cannot sum up the mystery, power, and beauty of the universe. To begin to understand the wonder of the universe, one must view it through the lens of the unaided eye rather than the lens of the calibrated telescope in order see a
 When I heard the learn’d  astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns                                                                             before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in  the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air,
and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Think about:

A romantic— poetic or imaginative—perspective can yield a deeper appreciation of a subject than a scientific perspective can. 

  • Cold, hard facts can obscure deep meanings of an observed phenomenon. 
  • Scientific calculation can quantify and measure the components and makeup of beautiful objects but cannot fathom their allure; only romantic musing can do that. 
  • Astronomy can analyze the electromagnetic radiation of a moonbeam; poetry can analyze the dreamy effect of a moonbeam on the human heart.
  • Science is invaluable as a tool to help us understand the complexities of the universe. But we must guard against allowing it to indurate us to the wondrous beauty of nature.
  •          Image result for when i heard the learn'd astronomer  A person must sometimes separate himself from the crowd to experience life and the cosmos from a different perspective. He must become an individual, a nonconformist, willing to abandon the herd to roam freely in open pastures. In the last three lines of the poem, the speaker does so. When he wanders alone in the mystical moist night-air, he looks up but does not see the wonders of celestial mechanics or astronomy, he sees stars.
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    .Whitman wrote the poem in free verse—also called vers libre, a French term. Free verse generally has no metrical pattern or end rhyme. However, it may contain patterns of another kind, such as repetition. Repetition of Words    For example, the first four lines of “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” all begin with the same word, constituting a figure of speech known as anaphoraRepetition of Parallel Structure: In addition, the poem builds a syntactical pattern, parallel structure, in the following groups of words:

    the proofs, the figures (line 2)
    the charts and diagrams (line 3)
    add, divide, and measure (line 3)
    tired and sick (line 5)
    rising and gliding (line 6)

    Repetition of SoundsFinally, the poem repeats similar sounds: heard, learn’d, heard; lectured, lecture, perfect; room, soon; rising, gliding, time, time, silence. Notice, too, the alliteration in the last two lines: mystical moist and silent . . . stars.

Coriolanus Acts 1 and 2

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I’ll fight with none but thee; for I do hate thee
Worse than a promise-breaker.
We hate alike:
Not Afric owns a serpentI abhor
More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.
Let the first budger die the other’s slave,
And the gods doom him after!
If I fly, Marcius,
Holloa me like a hare.
Within these three hours, Tullus,
Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,
And made what work I pleased: ’tis not my blood
Wherein thou seest me mask’d; for thy revenge
Wrench up thy power to the highest.
Wert thou the Hector
That was the whip of your bragg’d progeny,
Thou shouldst not scape me here.

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You shall not be
The grave of your deserving; Rome must know
The value of her own: ’twere a concealment
Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement,
To hide your doings; and to silence that,
Which, to the spire and top of praises vouch’d,
Would seem but modest: therefore, I beseech you
In sign of what you are, not to reward
What you have done–before our army hear me.
I have some wounds upon me, and they smart
To hear themselves remember’d.

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Should they not,
Well might they fester ‘gainst ingratitude,
And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses,
Whereof we have ta’en good and good store, of all
The treasure in this field achieved and city,
We render you the tenth, to be ta’en forth,
Before the common distribution, at
Your only choice.
I thank you, general;
But cannot make my heart consent to take
A bribe to pay my sword: I do refuse it;
And stand upon my common part with those
That have beheld the doing.”


I would I were a Roman; for I cannot,
Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition!
What good condition can a treaty find
I’ the part that is at mercy? Five times, Marcius,
I have fought with thee: so often hast thou beat me,
And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter
As often as we eat. By the elements,
If e’er again I meet him beard to beard,
He’s mine, or I am his: mine emulation
Hath not that honour in’t it had; for where
I thought to crush him in an equal force,
True sword to sword, I’ll potch at him some way
Or wrath or craft may get him.

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Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
No more of this; it does offend my heart:
Pray now, no more.
Look, sir, your mother!
You have, I know, petition’d all the gods
For my prosperity!
Nay, my good soldier, up;
My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and
By deed-achieving honour newly named,–
What is it?–Coriolanus must I call thee?–
But O, thy wife!
My gracious silence, hail!
Wouldst thou have laugh’d had I come coffin’d home,
That weep’st to see me triumph? Ay, my dear,
Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
And mothers that lack sons.
Now, the gods crown thee!

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On the sudden,
I warrant him consul.
Then our office may,
During his power, go sleep.
He cannot temperately transport his honours
From where he should begin and end, but will
Lose those he hath won.
In that there’s comfort.
Doubt not
The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
Upon their ancient malice will forget
With the least cause these his new honours, which
That he will give them make I as little question
As he is proud to do’t.
I heard him swear,
Were he to stand for consul, never would he
Appear i’ the market-place nor on him put
The napless vesture of humility;
Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds
To the people, beg their stinking breaths.
‘Tis right.
It was his word: O, he would miss it rather
Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him,
And the desire of the nobles.
I wish no better
Than have him hold that purpose and to put it
In execution.
‘Tis most like he will.
It shall be to him then as our good wills,
A sure destruction

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WB YEATS The Song of Wandering Aengus



[In labelling it “song”, the lyrical aspect of this poem is emphasised. The  adjective “wandering” has  connotations of someone endlessly search for something.]

I WENT out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lads and hilly lands.
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Read this analysis of the poem

Refer to the poem on both the literal and figurative level. The poet goes fishing and catches a silver trout. Figuratively, Aengus pursues his love, the girl from his dream while the poet pursues his inspiration. Consider the central theme: the lifelong search  – carefully.

The quest is to find the maiden who has vanished. The speaker’s  search for her is spurred by her mysterious disappearance and the poet’s fascination with this unattainable heart’s desire.
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Entering a hazel wood has another connotation in the Irish tradition as the hazel tree in Irish tree mythology symbolises wisdom.
Fire represents life, enlightenment, and inspiration.
The fish he has caught turns into a dreamlike maiden with springtime blossoms of the apple tree in her hair. She calls him by name and runs away —is she taunting to chase her? The Apple blossoms reflect sensuality, heady love and passion. Image result for the song of wandering aengusThis female figure becomes the object of the speaker’s life quest, which is to find and possess her. For the poet, chasing inspiration is like chasing love.
In the final stanza, the speaker is now old. He has wandered many years, overcoming many obstacles and he would like to find her and walk with her and collect the magical fruit of the sun and moon.
Image result for the song of wandering aengusAs the poem is lyrical, many literary device are used to create its musical effect:
 Assonance: The repetition of the long “o” vowel sounds within the first few lines of final stanza.
Repetition: The repetition of these words throughout poem: hazel, moths, fire, apple, name, time/times. Alliteration: The repetition of “h” at beginning of words in final stanza: hilly, hollow, her, hands.
Consonance: The repetition of “k” sound in final stanza: kiss, take, walk, luck.
Related image*What is the quest that the speaker has set himself? What spurs this search?
*How does this poem reflect both a hopeful and melancholy tone?
*Do you think the speaker will ever find the girl? Why or why not? Use specific examples from the text to support your opinion.
*Discuss the image of the apples and what they represent as a symbol.

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