Feminism & The Tempest Essay

1378 words - 6 pages

Correia PAGE 6
Brandon CorreiaMs. BradleyENG-3U1December 10, 2007Feminism in the TempestFeminist theory aims to understand the nature of inequality and focuses on gender politics, power relations and sexuality. To do Feminist Research is to put the social construction of gender at the center of one's inquiry. Feminist theory is about seeing gender as a basic organizing principle which profoundly shapes/mediates the concrete conditions of our lives. In the play The Tempest, by William Shakespeare Miranda is a perfect example of a woman's role in literature from a feminist theorist perspective. In The Tempest, Miranda's prescribed gender role and physical stature account for her naturally being subordinate to males.In Literature there are many instances when women are objectified solely because of their physical stature. Since women are generally smaller in size, her social hierarchy is inferior to the man. Gender is defined as masculine or feminine attributes that are socially fixed to their biological sex in opposition to each other. Scholar Germaine Greer states that, "the male sex/masculine gender embrace the positive side of the opposition and the female sex/feminine gender, the negative side"(4). A woman's physical stature excludes her from being superior, since superior is determined by masculine attributes. Furthermore, Joanne S. Frye, author of Living Stories: Women and the Novel, states that, images of women are analyzed by men based on physical appearance, as opposed to intellectual capacity. A woman is not seen for her inner beauty, only judged by what can be identified by bodily manifestation. The woman's physical appearance is a primary factor as to why she is seen as subordinate to the male.In The Tempest Miranda is often objectified solely because of her physical appearance. To explain, Miranda is seen a beautiful woman, nothing more that a sex object. Ferdinand's first thoughts of Miranda are revealed when he states, "most sure, the goddess/on whom these airs attend! - vouchsafe my prayer/may know if you remain upon this island" (1.2.505-507). Without knowing this woman's name Ferdinand is interested and hopes that she inhabits the island he was trapped in. Physically not only is Miranda seen as a sex object by Ferdinand, her physical stature prompts Ferdinand to believe she is not as capable as himself in a physical task. An example of this is when Ferdinand states, "no precious creature… I had rather crack my sinews, break my back, than you should such dishonor undergo while I sit lazy by"(3.1.30-33). Ferdinand is against Miranda helping him in physical duty solely because of her physical appearance. Clearly, Miranda is objectified by her status as a woman, objectified both physically and sexually through out the play.In literature women often thrive on affection, while men thrive on individualism. The inability for a woman to stand alone makes her vulnerable for attachment; regardless of the reality of her ignorance....

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