Friday, October 26, 2012

Symbolism from Coriolanus

Coriolanus is a tragic play written by William Shakespeare from 1605 to 1608. People who study this masterpiece by Shakespeare never reduce their passion in analyzing the symbolism from this play through hundreds of years. Different Shakespeareans will have various interpretations towards the same symbols. Crunelle Vanrigh Anny, from the University of Paris Ouest, writes "Coriolanus": The Smiling Belly and the Parliament Fart. The author discusses the symbolism of the “smiling belly” and the “parliament fart” in Corolianus. I will be focused on the language usage in how the author interprets the symbolism of “smiling belly” and “parliament fart”.

This essay is found on Academic Research Complete, and it is published in ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews, in 2009. Through the essay, the author asserts that the fable of the belly combines political and literature images. He also suggests that the Roman senate refers to the belly and other Roman citizens are the members of the body.

"Coriolanus": The Smiling Belly and the Parliament Fart, is for Shakespeareans or the readers who like to study the significance of Coriolanus. For the first glance of this text, it gives the impression of creditability. The author uses at least two quotes from other Coriolanus essays in each paragraph. In reading this four page essay, readers can benefit from about 31 scholars’ research. However, the author seems to be using too many quotes in this text, and less of his personal analyzes towards the topic. Thus, readers may find out half of this essay is collecting the most tremendous results from other researchers, and the rest of it combines the author’s individual research achievements.

Here is the first paragraph of this essay:

The first sentence starts with “commenting”, which is a participial phrase according to sentence-combining strategies. Also, the author writes “noted how apt it sounded” in official style. “Apt it sounded” means “appropriate for the situation”, but the author uses the euphemistic way rather than expressing straightforward meaning. According to the statistics of this paragraph from a readability calculator, the score of Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease is 28.3, Words per Sentence is 20.0 and Average Grade Level is 14.1. This paragraph only has five sentences, but it has quoted five different authors’ research. The euphemistic expression helps the reader to distinct the quotes and author’s personal thinking. 

Anny likes to use the passive voice in writing. Here is the passive voice sample, “However, the anal metaphor surfaces when the belly is dubbed “the sink o’ th’ body” (119)… This reading is supported by the considerable number of scatological double entendres in the opening lines of Menenius’s speech” (12). He writes “the anal metaphor surfaces when the belly is dubbed ‘the sink o' th' body.’” In this case, [d]ubbed is passive in this sentence. Moreover, “This reading is supported by the considerable number of scatological double entendres in the opening lines of Menenius’s speech”. “Supported” shows this sentence is in passive voice. The passive voice stops the reader from getting the author’s meaning directly, and instead the author takes the reader to a confusing way. The writer uses the passive voice which weakens his clarity of writing. 

The author also uses slow sentence opening to slow down the readers’ reading speed. “Among the questions discussed in James’s first Parliament was whether those born in Scotland after the Union of March 1603 (the post nati) were English subjects, a notion which met with the opposition of the Commons” (13). At the beginning of the sentence, the author introduces the background information of the “question”. Then he points out the main point of the sentence is about if James’s first Parliament born in Scotland. Readers won’t have a specific idea at the beginning until they read the key word—“born”. In this case, it is not an effective way in official style, because the reader will have feeling of the former part of the sentence isn’t necessary to repeat again. 

Generally, official style articles use as complex sentences as possible. Here is the example sentence of the complex one, “Audiences keeping abreast of the affairs of state--a not inconsiderable proportion, presumably--would have been prepared for a loud emission at some point in the course of Menenius’s speech” (14). This sentence can be simplified as “the audience is prepared to listen to Menenius’ speech.” In the original sentence, the author tries to use phrases of “affairs of state”, “inconsiderable proportion” and “a loud emission” to support his theory of political images. These phrases reflect a serious tone of politics, and seem formal. The complex structure builds an impression of professional criticism, and allows reader to think deeply, relating the political image to the body image.

 Back to the topic of this article, the author’s goal is to analyze the symbolism of “smiling belly” and “parliament fart” which seems is a humorous topic. However, he needs to use the “belly” and “fart” concept in politics. From my own perspective, the author uses the effective way of official style in half of this essay. One on hand, using official styles helps his essay be more earnest and have less amusing elements. In this case, this essay will be more professional and credible. On the other hand, some ineffective official style sentences are cumbersome that they contain unnecessary phrases.


--Xiaoqi Wu

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