Summary: Characters Throughout the Shakespeares Play The Tempest

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 The famous play The Tempest by William Shakespeare is a carefully written play that offers readers to view one of the main characters, Miranda, to be seen as young, innocent, blissful and compels the reader to feel compassion toward her. Miranda is the daughter of our central character, Prospero. We learn three things about Miranda: first, she is an early teenager, second, that she is a virgin, and third, she has never left the island she and her father lived on. These three details about Miranda are significant throughout the play as they play a critical role in our perception of her character. As readers, these facts are the only thing we are given about Miranda very early on in the play which gives us some inside context as to what to expect from our story.

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We learn that Miranda is 15 years old. In the play it states, “I do not think thou canst, for then thou wast not / Out three years old” and “Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since”. Learning her age is very important as it allows readers to view Miranda as a young teenager who has an innocent mindset and hasn’t “seen the real world”. Due to the fact that Miranda is so young, most readers would classify her as blissful in the department of love. When Miranda sees a man who is not her father for the first time, she immediately falls in love. The first thing young Miranda says is “I might call him / A thing divine, for nothing natural / I ever saw so noble”. In this line, there are many keywords and use of language that persuade the reader to believe in Miranda’s youth and innocent mindset. Miranda calling Ferdinand a “thing divine” is an interesting take. According to the Oxford dictionary, “divine” is defined as coming from a or connecting to gods. In this small phrase, Miranda is comparing Ferdinand to a god-like image; she images that this is what a divine thing is supposed to look like. She then continues to say, “for nothing natural / I ever saw so noble”. In this phrase, Miranda says claims, Prince Ferdinand, is the noblest and unnatural man she’s ever seen. The irony in both these phrases is that Miranda has never seen any other man in her life other than her father. Her innocent of never leaving this island has caused her to believe that Ferdinand is the most handsome man she has seen when she has seen nothing. Having the readers shift toward Miranda’s feelings allows her character to be seen with compassion and empathy.

Another important piece of dialogue to look at are the following lines, “O, wonder! / How many goodly creatures are there here! / How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, / That has such people in't!”. In these lines, Miranda has just seen the rest of the men from the shipwreck and is blown away by seeing other human beings. These lines are very critical to her character as they are a representation of who she is: innocent and creates compassion. Here she compares human beings to gods as she states, “how many godly creates are there here!”. Although she herself is a human, seeing these men who look nothing alike or like her, finds them incredibly fascinating and mesmerizing. Calling out the “brave new world”, Miranda then claims all of mankind is beautiful, despite our flaws. Miranda, who has been isolated from any other human interaction other than her father and a Caliban, who has no knowledge of the difference in gender, race, or religion, sees different men for the first time finds it easy to comprehend that all human beings godly like and beautiful. To write a character as blissful and naive as Miranda can really resonate with the audience to see all other human beings as beautiful creatures despite our differences.

One thing we notice as readers is just how important her virginity is and how much it is talked about throughout the play. Prospero seems to be the most concerned for the virginity of his daughter. Of course, he keeps her from Caliban as he attempted to rape her. The constant mention of her virginity is a signal that this is a very important factor. Being a young girl has this stigma that your virginity is what keeps you pure and innocent. It is almost seen as a definition for a perfect young bride. One of the first things Ferdinand says to Miranda when he meets her is, “O, if a virgin, / And your affection not gone forth, I'll make you / The queen of Naples”. It seems a little odd that Ferdinand states conditions for her to be married however, they do not apply to him. Ferdinand sets this condition to her as he claims he loves her. There is a double standard set here which quickly sets these two characters apart. Ferdinand is the handsome prince coming to save Miranda on the high hope that she is a virgin and Miranda, who is hoped to be a virgin so that she may marry the prince. Her naive mentality doesn’t even comprehend the idea that her “dream prince” hopes she is a virgin although his status in that department is never questioned.

Prospero also brings up Miranda’s virginity as he only approves of their marriage if they wait until after being married to finally have sexual intercourse. In these lines, “If thou dost break her virgin-knot before / All sanctimonious ceremonies may / With full and holy rite be minister'd, The union of your bed with weeds so loathly / That you shall hate it both: therefore take heed, As Hymen's lamps shall light you” .Prospero is setting his rules and consequences to their marriage. The reason Prospero does this is because Miranda’s virginity is the key Prospero’s success in this plan.  

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