Tragedy of Coriolanus Thesis Statements and Important Quotes

Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements for “The Tragedy of Coriolanus” by William Shakespeare that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “The Tragedy of Coriolanus” by William Shakespeare and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “The Tragedy of Coriolanus” in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot of “The Tragedy of Coriolanus” by William Shakespeare or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “The Tragedy of Coriolanus” by Shakespeare at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay. Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints about how to use PaperStarter.com in the brief User's Guide...you'll be glad you did.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Social Class in Coriolanus

Throughout the tragedy of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, social class and construction plays a large role in moving along the plot. Coriolanus has very strong feelings of disdain for the lower class citizens of Rome, which becomes clear from the beginning when the plebeians are starving from high grain prices. Shakespeare's Coriolanus does not believe they should have a say in the price of grain, and later, when he is forced to beg votes from them to become a consul member, his pride will not allow him to ask anything of these lower class citizens, at least not graciously. When he is elected and the plebeians take the nomination back from him, he flies into a rage, denouncing democracy and the right of the people to decide whom their popular leaders should be. What is important about Coriolanus’ disdain for the plebeians? Do you think there is something to the fact that while Coriolanus was a great contributor to Rome, his disgust for the lower class was what ultimately caused his death?

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Character Analysis : The Relationship between Volumnia and Coriolanus

The relationship between mother and son is a driving force in Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Coriolanus. Volumnia is an overbearing and powerful woman who wants for nothing more than success for her son. While that desire for success is a common attribute for most parents, Volumnia only wants Coriolanus to succeed so that he will bring glory to her. Volumnia raised Coriolanus and he has never pulled away from her controlling powers; in fact, anything that Volumnia suggests to Coriolanus, he will attempt to accomplish. He begs votes from the plebeians because his mother finds it to be the best course of action, and in the end, Volumnia is the only one who can make Coriolanus retreat from Rome. When she returns to the city with the news, she is exalted as the city’s heroine. Is it ironic that she has spent so many years creating Coriolanus to be the savior of Rome, and it is only in his downfall that Volumnia receives the credit she so desires?

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Role of Identity in Shakespeare's Coriolanus

While not a major theme to the play, the role of identity is still important in William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. Throughout his entire life, Coriolanus has been raised as a Roman soldier. From his early education by Volumnia, with the desire to create the best soldier Rome has ever seen, to his later years of actual training, all Coriolanus has ever been is a soldier. It’s clear throughout the play that Coriolanus never pays much attention to his feelings, unless they have to do with his status as a Roman soldier. When he is happy, he is happy because of something that occurred in battle, and the likewise is true with his sorrow. Coriolanus has no foundational identity to fallback on when Rome turns against him. Do you think if Coriolanus had been more well-balanced, he would have reacted differently to his exile? Why was his banishment from Rome so devastating?

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Compare and Contrast Volumnia and Virgilia

Coriolanus has only two important women in his life throughout the text of Coriolanus. His overbearing and ambitious mother, Volumnia, raised him and he married the meek and gentle Virgilia. These two women are different on many levels; Volumnia is outspoken and unashamed of her ambition, while Virgilia is quiet and anxious for her husband. When Coriolanus returns from battle, scarred and bloody, Volumnia praises his wounds because they mean that he has fought his hardest. Virgilia rushes to Coriolanus’ side, thankful that he is home and alive. In what other ways are these women different? How do their opinions differ on the topic of raising Coriolanus’ child? More specifically, how are their reactions varied to the young Martius’ treatment of the bird? Why do you think that Coriolanus picked someone so different from his own mother as a spouse, and how do Virgilia and Volumnia feel about one another?


This list of important quotations from “The Tragedy of Coriolanus” by William Shakespeare will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “The Tragedy of Coriolanus” by William Shakespeare listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements for “The Tragedy of Coriolanus” by William Shakespeare above, these quotes alone with page numbers or line and scene numbers can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way.

“They fear us not, but issue forth their city. Now put your shields before your hearts, and fight With hearts more proof1 than shields. Advance, brave Titus: They do disdain us much beyond our thoughts, Which makes me sweat with wrath. Come on, my fellows: He that retires, I’ll take him for a Volsce, And he shall feel mine edge." (I.iv.32-38)

“All the contagion of the south light on you, You shames of Rome! you herd of–Boils and plagues Plaster you o’er, that you may be abhorr’d Further than seen, and one infect another Against the wind a mile! You souls of geese, That bear the shapes of men, how have you run From slaves that apes would beat!" (I.iv.40-46)

“My rage is gone; and I am struck with sorrow" (V.v.85)

“What's the matter, you dissentious rogues That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, Make yourselves scabs?” (I.i.150-152)

“What must I say? -'I pray, sir' – Plague upon't! I cannot bring My tongue to such a pace. Look, sir, my wounds. I got them in my country's service, when Some certain of your brethren roared and ran From th' noise of our own drums.” (II.iii.45-50)

“Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck'st it from me;” (III.ii.129)

“You common cry of curs! Whose breath I hate As reek o' th' rotten fens, whose loves I prize As the dead carcasses of unburied men That do corrupt my air, I banish you.” (III.iii.119-122)

“The beast With many heads butts me away.” (IV.i.1)

“Know thou first, I loved the maid I married: never man Sighed truer breath. But that I see thee here, Thou noble thing, more dances my rapt heart Than when I first my wedded mistress saw Bestride my threshold.” (IV.v.109-114)

Source : Shakespeare, William. The Norton Shakespeare. 1. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1997.
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