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The major theme of Coriolanus is that pride and arrogance lead to a manís defeat, as seen in the downfall of Coriolanus.
Coriolanus is a political tragedy that explores the tensions of a class struggle and the tenuous political alliances that are made within a republic. The threat of civil disobedience on the part of the commoners is always present in the play and provides a major part of the confrontation between the plebeians (who are poor and weak) and the patricians (who are rich and the powerful). This conflict is set against the larger conflict and turmoil that always threatens the Roman republic, for Rome has many outside enemies.
A dark, violent, and cynical mood pervades Coriolanus right from the beginning of the play. Coriolanus, raised by his mother to be a military man and warmonger, is motivated by his thirst for blood. He is the personification of Rome at its most violent and arrogant worst. The play opens with a rebellious mob scene that sets the tone of social unrest and political upheaval throughout the play and ends with another mob scene in a different city in which the protagonist is murdered. In between, the characters are merged in underhanded dealings, psychological manipulation, contempt for the commoners, and disgusting arrogance.
There are traces of irony and humor in the play, especially in Meneniusí tale of the belly, Coriolanusí encounter with the servants in Aufidiusí house, Meneniusí encounter with the guards at Coriolanusí camp, and the climactic intercession scene. In the end, however, the play closes with a totally cynical attitude about the power and arrogance of politics.