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The Oppression Of Miranda In The Tempest

2094 words - 8 pages

The Oppression of Miranda  in The Tempest

                 Miranda's schooling in The Tempest shows the audience the conflicting arrangement white women in the Shakespearean drama as well as Shakespearean times are forced to act within.  Paul Brown points out that "the discourse of sexuality…offers the crucial nexus for the various domains of colonialist discourse" (208) and the conduct in Prospero manipulates his followers' sexuality is the mainstay of his power.  The Miranda-Prospero relationship servers to represent a sort of patriarchy, which is unarguably the system many Renaissance women and women of Shakespeare's time found themselves in.  It is thus unsurprising that Prospero controls Miranda and her sexuality as well.  The system of patriarchy is demonstratd again and again throughout the play.  For example, we see that Prospero's wisdom, magic, and education of Miranda, as well as his civilizing of Caliban demonstrates a system of authoritative love. There is no question that Prospero loves and wishes to protect his daughter; for example, Prospero continuously reiterates how much he cares for Miranda.  However, at the same time, he exhibits enough power over her to be considered a patriarch.  Prospero's authority over Miranda is so great that she cannot do anything but follow her father's wishes; it almost appears as if she has no choice in the matter for she, like Ariel and Caliban, can also be subject to Prospero's magical control.  However, it appears that upon a closer study of this, we see that, patriarchalism makes specific, and often apparently contradictory demands of its "own" women, which can often cause confusion and problems for the woman involved.

            Miranda, as a character in Renaissance drama, is probably the loneliest woman that appears in the plays of the time, as she is without any other women to take after, befriend, or even recognize as female.  As a Renaissance woman protagonist, she acts within an completely male world: "I do not know/ One of my sex; no woman's face remember" (3.1.48-49).  While no other women appear in the play, references are made to other women, but the count here is still minimal and sums up to three.  Miranda speaks of the lack of female companionship around her because of her location, but simultaneously the audience sees that the references to women that do occur within the play often have a sinister purpose for appearing within the lines.  The other women mentioned in the play seem to provide a sort of dark cloak over the proceedings of the play, even if they are completely absent.  Regardless, Miranda, as the only physical woman in the play the audience actually sees and hears, is described by Prospero with kind words, and few, if any, negative imagery revolves around the appearance of the innocent Miranda.  For example, Prospero informs Miranda that this "Art" is prompted by his concern for her; "I have done nothing but in care of thee" (1.2.16).  Prospero also tells...

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