Sexual Imagery in Coriolanus

  • Ralph Berry


Of sexual interest, in the conventional sense, there is virtually nothing in Coriolanus. But an undercurrent of sexual images adds to our ‘secret impressions’, in Morgann’s phrase,1 of the theme of the play. They provide an insistent suggestion that the concerns of the play are sexual, defined in the broadest sense, or that the mainsprings of the activities depicted are not without sexual implications. The subject-matter of Coriolanus is politics and war; but the sexual images imply that a major focus of interest lies elsewhere. The interrelation of war and sex is the underlying statement of the play.


Sexual Interest Sexual Image Final Scene Dominant Partner Sexual Imagery 
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Sexual Imagery in Coriolanus

  1. 1.
    Maurice Morgann, ‘An Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff’, reprinted in Maurice Morgann, Shakespearian Criticism, ed. Daniel A. Fineman (Oxford, 1972 ) p. 149.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See T. J. B. Spencer (ed.), Shakespeare’s Plutarch (Harmondsworth, 1964 ) p. 300.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Una Ellis-Fermor, ’Coriolanus’, Shakespeare the Dramatist (London, 1961) pp. 60–77.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    A. P. Rossiter, Angel With Horns (London, 1961 ) p. 247.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Maurice Charney, Shakespeare’s Roman Plays ( Cambridge, Mass., 1961 ) p. 35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 8.
    G. Wilson Knight, The Royal Occupation: An Essay on Coriolanus’, The Imperial Theme (London, 1951 ) p. 197.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ralph Berry 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph Berry
    • 1
  1. 1.York UniversityCanada

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