- Jun 2017
What trade, thou knave? Thou naughty knave, what trade?
The scornful treatment of the Plebeians by the tribunes is a clear indication of the class distinction that was present during the Roman, and more appropriately, the Elizabethan eras. The noblemen's internal prejudices create perceptions of the commoners as 'naughty knaves', 'hard hearts' and the 'cruel men of Rome'.
Flavius and Murellus' reprimand of the tradesmen for truanting a workday further solidifies their belief that a labourer's sole purpose is menial work. Shakespeare uses the context to express the irony of this hierarchy; the commoners are distinguished by stupidity, although it is the tribunes that fail to understand the meaning behind the cobbler's puns.
Ultimately this scene serves to characterise the Plebeians and their purpose in the play. The constant defamation from the higher classes outline the insignificance of the commoners in regards to the more serious issues of the story.