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Enmity and Friendship

In: English and Literature

Submitted By cyka
Words 1217
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Duality of Enmity and Friendship
An atmosphere of uncertainty pervades this play due to shifting allegiances. It is difficult to identify who is a friend and who is an enemy. On one hand, Coriolanus is a war hero who has a claim on the people's loyalty for his military services. On the other hand, the people dislike his pride and under the influence of the tribunes, quickly become his enemy and drive him out of Rome. This turns Coriolanus' allegiance from Rome to his former enemies, the Volscians. Aufidius and Coriolanus are sworn enemies who become friends after Coriolanus is banished, but envy and rivalry gain ascendancy in Aufidius' mind and he once again becomes Coriolanus' treacherous enemy.
While such shifts come naturally to Aufidius and he is skilled at hiding them when needed, Coriolanus is of an open and guileless nature, so that everyone knows whose side he is on. As the age of martial conquest begins to give way to an age of political manoeuvring, it is no accident that Aufidius and the other politicians, Menenius, Brutus and Sicinius, survive, but Coriolanus falls to his tragic demise.
Enemy:
A5 S6: 1. Aufidius insults Coriolanus constantly at the end of the play, being called a traitor. Shows the audience the true extent of their formidable relationship, one half being a sight of betrayal, though if this was not the case, neither one would complete the other. This ignobility takes away Coriolanus’ honour.
“ But tell the traitor in the highest degree. He hath abused your powers... Ay, traitor, Martius... grace thee with that robbery, thy stol’n name Coriolanus, in corioles?... betrayed your business... he whined and roared away your victory...” – line 85-102 * Aufidius uses words and phrases (beginning with ‘traitor’) that he knows will anger Coriolanus and provoke him to a rash response * The more Aufidius insults Coriolanus, the more confident A becomes and the less rational C becomes.
A1 S8: 2. This scene captures the battle of words rather than weaponry present between Aufidius and Coriolanus. Irony is that Coriolanus was never a man of words but rather action. However, the battle brings out a conflicting and flexible component of his character. A sense of hatred is created within the audience showing the difference in honour and nobility

C- “I'll fight with none but thee; for I do hate thee... Worse than a promise-breaker.” * “fight” was a symbol of honor. C had respect for A as a warrior, hence chooses to fight against him, for he hates him as well. A- “We hate alike/ Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor/ More than thy fame and envy.” * A hates C’s reputation more than anything
C- “First budger die the other's slave, And the gods doom him after!” * Being captured and commenced to a slave, rather than die as a hero, marks the lack of honour and courage present * It is also shameful and thus both want the other to be in that situation.
A-“If I fly, Martius, Hollo me like a hare.” * The desire for both to chase after each other and to capture one another has a slight sexual transgression appointed. Shakespeare could elude to the sexual desires of the men during the battle.

Friendship:

A1 S1:

1. Coriolanus and Aufidius each respect and recognize the other as a worthy foe: the best opponent amongst their enemies. Despite their hatred for each other, it is clear that the men admire and respect each other with a passion equal to their hatred. It is Coriolanus who first tells the audience about Aufidius, stating that the Volsces:
“have a leader,
Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to’t.
I sin in envying his nobility;
And were I anything but what I am, I would wish me only he” * Coriolanus does not seem to respect or admire any other character in the play. Yet he heaps praise upon his most loathed enemy: confessing that he envies Aufidius’ nobility and stating that, if he could not be himself, then he would want to be Aufidius.
Coriolanus wants to have the honour of fighting Aufidius himself; he also indicates that he would rather fight Aufidius and no one else.
“Were half to half the world by th’ears, and he
Upon my party, I’d revolt to make
Only my wars with him. He is a lion
That I am proud to hunt.” * Coriolanus enjoys the challenge of hunting this “lion”; he seems to enjoy the act of battling Aufidius just as much, if not more, than any victory. However, if he were to kill Aufidius, he would kill the only true challenge and worthy opponent he has.
A4 S5: 2. Homoeroticism in this scene is presented by Shakespeare to show a clear distinction between the bitter enmity and sexual attraction of Aufidius and Coriolanus

“Let me twine
Mine arms about that body, where against
My grained ash a hundred times hath broke…
I lov’d the maid I married; never man
Sigh’d 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…
…Thou hast beat me out
Twelve several times, and I have nightly since
Dreamt of encounters ‘twixt thyself and me-
We have been down together in my sleep,
Unbuckling helms, fisting each other’s throat
And wak’d half dead with nothing.”

* This is the attitude not of a valiant soldier to his comrade in arms, but of an adoring female to her masterful lover. It would appear that Aufidius has abandoned his duty as a military leader and has become woman-like. This situation should raise alarms for Coriolanus because of the undercurrent of fickleness. If Aufidius had greeted Coriolanus like a man and fellow soldier, perhaps the audience would be reassured that here was a firm basis for an honest and lasting friendship. * The language Aufidius uses to describe his dream is violent and inescapably erotic, demonstrating the scope of his passion for Coriolanus. The battles between the two men are as important to Aufidius as they are to Coriolanus; Aufidius not only remembers these battles “where against my grained ash a hundred times hath broke”, but also dreams about them as well “we have been down together in my sleep”. * Coriolanus and Aufidius’ hated each other so passionately that it is no surprise to find that same level of passion in their love for one another.

Shakespeare proves to show the relationship between Aufidius and Coriolanus clearly as an emotionally and physically charged one. Enflamed by the passions of war, their hatred for each other takes a homoerotic turn. Coriolanus and Aufidius’ entire relationship is marked by passion: passionate hatred, passionate battles, passionate admiration, passionate jealousy, and passionate love. The zealous nature of the two sworn enemies shows that one is nothing without the other and each being just one half of the whole. Even though they are bitter enemies, their hatred for each other does not prevent Aufidius and Coriolanus from recognizing the other as a worthy, admirable opponent. Through the use of dialogue and heavy laden speech, an audience can see the equal but opposite side of Aufidius and Coriolanus, and this contrasting theme of enmity and friendship, which is what leads Coriolanus to his tragic downfall.

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