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Coriolanus: Celebrating a Bakhtinian Anarchic Body of Roman Republic

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The last tragedy of Shakespeare, Coriolanus (1608), is one of the most ignored and controversial Shakespearian plays towards which there has always been a sort of dislike. Despite the fact that the dislike is attributed by many critics to the play's harshness, it can be analyzed in terms of the play's protagonist and the low language he uses. Cursing language is the most important feature of Coriolanus which undermines him into a grotesque figure, removes the audience's and the reader's sympathy with him, and questions the authoritative language of the play. This study uses Mikhail Bakhtin's ideas to bring under scrutiny Shakespeare's unpopular protagonist in terms of his cursing and obscene language or voice. Using such ideas as "heteroglossia," "grotesque body" and "carnival" it will be argued that Shakespeare through language makes the audiences sympathize neither with patricians nor plebeians, but gets them to stand and criticize a contemporary issue. This so-called "alienation effect" created by Shakespeare changes the play into an epic theatre. Also, it is shown that "heteroglossia" and the grotesque quality of Coriolanus' language help to undermine the authoritative or "unitary language" of the play as a systematic whole. In other words, the stable society and language Shakespeare is after are subverted by the heteroglot and grotesque language of Coriolanus and Menenius.


International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences (Volume 37)
R. D. Beigi and P. Abbasi, "Coriolanus: Celebrating a Bakhtinian Anarchic Body of Roman Republic", International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol. 37, pp. 5-17, 2014
Online since:
Aug 2014