There’s an interesting prop in Coriolanus. If it came early on the play, I’d call it a MacGuffin. But it comes late, Act Five…
When Menenius comes to the Volscian camp to plead with Coriolanus not to invade Rome, the general brushes him off:
Mine ears against your suits are stronger than
Your gates against my force. Yet, for I loved thee,
Take this along; I writ it for thy sake,
[He gives Menenius a paper.] And would have sent it.
Menenius has just called Martius, “my son” (V.ii.61, 68), and himself “thy old father” (V.ii.67). It’s obvious that there is some connection there, as Martius admits he has “loved” Menenius. So much so that he has already written Menenius a note, and was going to send it. But now he has the opportunity to give him the letter personally, and he does.
But what does that letter say?
Inquiring minds want to know!