Prospero and Miranda’s relationship in the Tempest is a strongly bonded one. However, Prospero has a very strict control over Miranda, especially any aspects relating to sexual relations. Prospero loves having and controlling power, and Miranda is another thing to add to his list, which he can have complete power over. Like every parent and their children, they are bound to have arguments at some points through their life, but these hardly change the relationship between them. In the time that Shakespeare was writing this play, woman played less important roles in society that men did, so we have to take this into account. There are also many different ways in interpreting what Shakespeare has said, so sometimes, we have to choose what we, ourselves think is right.
From the beginning of the play, we can tell that Prospero and Miranda’s relationship is a strong one, when Prospero uniforms her of their past. Miranda is obviously very close to her father, because when he tells Miranda about being usurped by his “false brother” Antonio, this immediately provokes hatred in Miranda. If she wasn’t so close to her father, and did not love him as much, then she wouldn’t have been so moved by what she just heard. She says:
“I should sin
To think but nobly of my Grandmother;
Good wombs have born bad sons.”
This quotation expresses her disbelief in the feat of such a good and honourable woman producing such an evil son.
We can see just how much love Prospero has for Miranda when Prospero tells the audience, about when they left Milan on an unworthy boat, in a storm, when Miranda was quite young. Prospero says:
“Thou was thou did preserve me.”
The word “preserve” seems to show that even when he was crying and groaning, Miranda was what kept him going, kept him determined to survive. This shows how strong their relationship is and how much love that Prospero has for Miranda even though some of the time; he does not always show it.
Since arriving on the island, Prospero has had to do a lot of things for Miranda, including p being her tutor, as there are no teachers on the island to educate Miranda:
“Have I thy schoolmaster, made thee more profit
Than other princes.”
Because Prospero is such a great man, he has been able to give her better education than other princes. The love and kindness in the relationship is reciprocal, as Miranda expresses her gratefulness towards her father:
“Heavens thank you for’t.”
Next the audience witness Prospero using his magic in order to lull Miranda to sleep so that he might have to chance to speak with his magical sprite Ariel. In this way, Prospero uses sleep to separate his family life and his business of bringing his enemies to justice. Miranda says:
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“The strangeness of your story put
Heaviness in me.”
Shakespeare uses this power of Prospero’s to allow sub-plots into the play, and even mystery in the plot, and the characters within the play. For example, the audience is aware of Prospero’s dialogue with Ariel and the history of Ariel, Sycorax and Caliban whereas Miranda is ignorant of this. Prospero may have wished to protect Miranda’s innocence by putting her to sleep so that she would not know about Ariel or his torment as a result of the witch Sycorax. Whatever the reason, Prospero uses sleep to remove the complications, so that he may speak with Ariel openly without having to answer any questions of explain anything to Miranda. However, other people may take this power as the easy way out, and that he cannot be bothered to explain anything to Miranda. To others, it may seem that he is keeping something from his daughter, and he shouldn’t be doing this. I believe that the first reason is the real reason, but we are left to make our own choice.
Prospero shows great caring towards Miranda, and a good example of this is after Ariel and Prospero have spoken, and it is Miranda’s turn to awake:
“Awake, dear heart, awake; thou has slept
The words “dear heart” express the caring feeling towards Miranda, and also shows us what Miranda possesses.
We next meet Caliban who was the native of the island before Prospero and Miranda arrived. Prospero and Miranda were once very kind to Caliban and even:
In mine own cell,”
But his was only until Caliban supposedly assaulted Miranda, and from then on, Caliban was treated as a slave. However, the case for this supposed rape had never been proved. We can see how strict Prospero is over Miranda sexual relations. However, I think that this issue would also been taken seriously by any parent how cared.
It is not only sexual relations that Prospero is strict on with Miranda. Prospero is even strict when it comes to looking at men. When Miranda first sees Ferdinand she says:
“What is’t, a spirit?”
In Act Three, we are told more about this. Miranda cannot remember seeing any woman’s face, apart from her own reflection. She says:
“One of my sex, no woman’s face remember-
Save, from my glass, mine own.”
We can tell from this that Prospero must have been very strict on who Miranda is and is not allowed to see. This could be interpreted as Prospero being very harsh towards Miranda and going a bit over the top. However, others could interpret this as being king, caring and affectionate, as she has her father, and will find her true love, so she doesn’t need anybody else. However, I find it very sad, as the only man that Miranda can compare Ferdinand to is her own father:
“Nor can imagine form or shape,
Besides yourself to like of.”
When Miranda and Ferdinand meet for the first time, they talk to each other so romantically and passionately. Miranda says to Ferdinand:
“I might call him
A thing divine, for nothing natural
I ever saw so noble.”
Words like “divine,” “natural” and “noble” really express hoe much Miranda likes Ferdinand.
Ferdinand says to Miranda;
“Most sure the goddess
On whom these airs attend!-Vouchsafe my prayer.”
The word “goddess” shows how Ferdinand views Miranda.
Prospero as the protective father, does not like all this sort of talk and says:
“A word, good sir;
I fear you have done yourself some wrong. A word.”
Miranda gets angry with her father for being so forceful towards the one she loves, as I think any daughter would. She does not dare show her anger to her father, so she shoes that she is upset:
“Why speaks my father so ungently?”
We soon realise that Prospero is conjuring up a tesr for Ferdinand to see if hios love for Miranda is really as strong as he says it is. This is a very loving thing to do for Miranda, as he wants to make sure that Ferdinand is the right one for her. Prospero says:
“They are both in either’s powers, but this swift
I must uneasy make, lest too light winning
Make the prize light.”
One aspect of this is when Prospero threatens Ferdinand and sees whether he will stick up for himself. He says:
“ I’ll manacle thy neck and feet together;
Sea water shalt thou drink.”
The word “manacle” expresses to us how harshly he is going to treat Ferdinand. However, Miranda tries her very best to stand up for him:
“O dear father,
Make not too rash a trial of him, for
He’s gently and nor fearful.”
Prospero’s replies to this beg as saying:
“My foot my tutor?”
Here, he is saying, ‘shall I allow something stupid to teach me?’ He is being quite harsh towards Miranda’s delicate feelings, even though in the long run it is for her own good. Prospero then gets even worse:
“Silence! One word more
Shall make me hide thee, if not hate thee.”
Here Prospero is adopting authoritarian attitude. He is saying that he could hate Miranda, because she should not be speaking up. Again, he is only doing this for Miranda’s protection, but I do not think that he should have been so hateful towards Miranda, as she is his daughter.
Even though her father has stamped Miranda’s feelings, she still loves him and tries to explain to Ferdinand that he is “of a better nature.” All that Prospero wants is to make sure that Ferdinand is right for Miranda, and this is a typical father-daughter relationship.
Prospero makes Ferdinand endure in some manual labour. Of course Ferdinand is not used to doing this, because he is a prince, but he is just doing it in the hope that he will be able to marry Prospero’s daughter Miranda.
Prospero does relaise what Miranda is going through, and explains this in a rather unusual way:
“Poor worm, thou art infected!
This visitation shows it.”
Here Prospero affectionately compares Miranda to a worm who is infected-in this case, love and desire for Ferdinand.
Prospero said that Ferdinand was not to know his daughters name, but when Ferdinand asks, Miranda says:
“Miranda-O my father,
I have broken your hest to say so.”
this quotation, shows that there is a lot of trust and love in the relationship, because you can tell that she really did not mean to say her name, and she feels awful, now that she has gone against her father’s demand.
Because of Prospero’s strict ideas and rules on sexual relations, she “dare not offer what I desire to give.” This could be because she loves and respects her father to much to do so, or could just be because she is cared what her father would do to her if she did lose her virginity.
The next time we meet Ferdinand again, is after he “hast strangely stood the test,” and now Prospero has “ given you here a third of mine own life.” However, “ a third of mine own life” has been interpreted in 3 different ways, and it is up to us to decide which one we think is right.
1) That Miranda has been raised by Prospero for one third of his life.
2) Miranda is one of his three great riches, along with his dukedom and his art, or his wife and himself.
3) Miranda is a major ingredient of his happiness, expressed imprecisely as one third. I think that the second one is right, but could b interpreted as Prospero being harsh to his daughter. However, in the same speech, Prospero refers to Miranda as being his “rich gift” We need to think what a “gift” means. Is she a possession of Prospero’s that he wants to give away with pride, or is it something precious to him that he is reluctant to give away. It could even be that it is Prospero’s possession, and now Ferdinand has acquired her. I believe that it is the first one, based on what I have read before.
In the time that Shakespeare was writing this play, it was very important for a woman to be pure when she got married. For this, being the typical dad he says:
“If thou dost break her virgin knot before
All sanctimonious ceremonies…” then he shall:
The union of your bed with weeds so loathly
That you shall hate it both.”
Words like “weeds,” “loathly” and “hate” are words that should not be associated with the word “bed,” but here, makes it stand out.
This is a horrible image, but Prospero is just doing it in order to protect his only daughter, in all the ways that he possible can. Prospero just wants their love to be preserved.
Prospero then wants to spirits to give the happy couple a blessing. Prospero says:
Now come, my Ariel; bring a corollary
Rather than want a spirit. Appear, and pertly.
No tongue, all eyes, be silent.”
This is a lovely idea that Prospero has come up with, to please his daughter and her fiancé. We can see that Prospero is just trying to do the best for his child, and to make her happy, as there is a “contract of true love to celebrate.”
From all of this we can see that Prospero is just another typical father (but using magic). Prospero loves having and controlling people, and Miranda is another one to add to his list. Of course, they have arguments, as all parents with their children do, but even if he did come across to the audience a being quite a harsh character to his daughter, it was really, only for her own good. I think that all Prospero actually wanted was true love for her, and to protect and care for her in every way possible.