Betrayal at the hands of democracy in Coriolanus

Chung Chin-Yi


Martius believes in a form of government in which only the elite and aristocratic should rule. The lower ranks should accept the decisions made by the ruling class as being in the best interests of the nation. Martius’ political views are elitist deeply set apart from a class superiority from the common folk whom he despises and views as inferior. He may be a decorated war hero of Rome but he despises the plebeians right to vote him into power. He views the plebeians as lacking the Roman virtus. When Menenius asks him to consider how he will be perceived by the people if he is rude to them he remarks “Hang ‘em/I would they forget me,like the virtues/Which our divides lose by ‘em. (2.3.58-60) Coriolanus is thus betrayed by his class snobbery, he will never truly be seen as one of the people because of his arrogance and elitism.

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