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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

'Splainin Shakespeare

Incidentally, I did some explaining of Shakespeare last weekend during lunch with Mr. S. He enjoyed watching the plays with me. "For example, the movie we saw together about the Roman General," he mentioned. "It was pretty exciting and twisty." I was reminded that we saw the movie version of Coriolanus together, the one starring Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, and Jessica Chastain. "But I don't get why in the end he didn't invade Rome with the enemy army. He almost won. Why did he stop and get himself killed? It doesn't seem to make sense."

I explained how I see Coriolanus' motives. He is the ultimate Mamma's boy. He became this super-macho warrior general for his mother, because his mother wants him to be a hero. All his life he's tried to live up to his mother's expectations. His mother wants a strong and famous son in her life, so he becomes her fantasy. When he comes back to Rome, his mother wants him to move up in the world and campaign for the Senate. This would boost her vanity. He hates politics and the people, but he agrees to beg for votes from the citizens he despises. All for Mommy! So when Mother suddenly reverses all the rules she's instilled in him and begs him not to invade Rome in the end, he is totally fucked up in the head. What to do? He's obeyed Mother all his life, usually against his own well-being. He doesn't know what's good for himself. He hasn't got the practice. So he obeys Mother again, one last time. And, isn't it fucking ironic that this super-macho representation of extreme masculinity is but an artificial creation of female fantasy (or more likely pent-up female sexuality, considering that Coriolanus' mother is a widow)?

"Does that make sense?" I asked.

"Well, yeah." He said. "Now that you've explained it."

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