One of the biggest things that struck me in Act Two was how important courageousness was as a virtue. A courageous and spirited nature is so important that it sometimes causes people to partially lose sight of some critical flaws, which prevent someone from being a great leader. Coriolanus clearly displays in Act Two that he is arrogant, has a general disregard for people that are of lower class then him, has no real ability to articulate himself and what he is thinking, and has now desire for any role other than that of being a warrior leading troops into battle.
Menenius is arguing with two of the tribunes about how arrogant Martius is. They conveniently drop and forget their conversation when they hear how Coriolanus was victorious in battle. Volumnia comes in. She says, “Oh he is wounded. I thank the Gods for it.” Volumnia and Menenius at one point discuss how many scars and wounds Coriolanus has. Coriolanus’ desire for courageousness was very much influenced by his mother. When Coriolanus comes in, he kneels infront of his mother.
There is the idea that Coriolanus will be appointed to consul, a top position in the republic. Appointing him to this position as a way to honor his great courageousness. Of course, he has to get up in front of the people and persuade them to support him for consul. These are the people that he so plainly despises. The question is can they be won over by how many battle wounds he has and how great a warrior he is.
Coriolanus may be a courageous master of the battlefield but he has no idea of politics, cooperation, or deliberation. Coriolanus really has a hard time standing up and addressing the people. In Act Two Scene Two, when everyone is at the Senate making the pitch for Coriolanus to become consul, Cominius is forced to get up and describe Coriolanus’ virtues. Again later Coriolanus talks about how hard it is for him to address the people. He says, “I do beseech you, Let me o’erlap that custom; for I cannot put on the gown, stand naked, and entreat them for my wounds’ sake to give their suffrage. Please you that I may pass this doing.”
The plebians/people realizes how much power that they have in the situation. They know that in the past they have been seen as a fickle diverse crowd but if they talked with one voice they could be powerful. Coriolanus comes out to talk to the people. He realizes that he hasn’t gotten here because he is a great political leader but because he is a great warrior. He is forced to use his battle tales to win people over. The people are not fooled though. They see right through it. Brutus says, “Did you perceive he did solicit you in free contempt when he did need your loves, and do you think that his contempt shall not be bruising to you when he hath power to crush you?”