Summary: the Dissonance Between the Two Text — The Tempest and Hag-Seed

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Focusing mainly on Felix and Miranda, the feudal meaning has been further developed through this relationship. Miranda and Felix in Hag-seed are reimagined versions of Prospero and Miranda. However, unlike The Tempest, Miranda in Hag-seed is dead. Throughout the novel, Felix creates a delusional version of Miranda, mirroring the power and authority Prospero has upon his Miranda. In both texts, Miranda is always under the control of her father and is rarely seen exploring life on their own.The idea of justice is perceived as Hag-seed’s Miranda is given the liberty she deserves after being used as the idea behind Felix’s revenge and Prospero also giving liberty to his daughter for the lost years that she was under his control. To summarise, Hag-seed explores the feudal idea of justice being acquired to the main character, but it also implies the idea of a humanistic reading that justice should be given to all and not only the main character.

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Felix is wishing his twelve years of hard work farewell, which includes the delusional version of Miranda, however Felix also portrays signs of dissatisfaction as he believes his justice has still yet to be achieved. The repetition of ‘wrong’ and ‘endgame’ focuses heavily on his realisation. Here Atwood symbolises his ‘Tempest’ as Felix’s desire to achieve his justice through his anger and betrayal Although acclaiming his position once again at the Festival, he feels as if there's something else that needs to happen in order for him to rightfully obtain his justice, which is essentially, to free Miranda. “Yes, he loves her: his dear one, his only child. But he knows what she truly wants, and what he owes her”, here the repetition of the pronoun ‘his’ and ‘he’ reflects that him achieving his justice, didn’t feel right. Here, the act of acknowledging his wrongdoings allows Felix to let go and finally acquire his own freedom and justice by simply moving on. The state of justice is that the endgame was not for Felix to get his position back, but instead to give Miranda her liberty by simply freeing her from his mind.

Correspondingly, Prospero also let’s go of his daughter. The use of caesura in this quote increases the emotional impact Prospero has suffered by losing his daughter, “Than you may call to comfort you, for I have lost my daughter.” Throughout Act 5 Scene 1 Line 134-152, there’s a large repetition of ‘loss’, ‘lost’ and ‘lose as both Prospero and Alonso reflect the loss of their children. Miranda leaving Prospero signifies that in order for her to grow, she must escape the world created by her father to pursue her own happiness. Just like Hag-seed, Felix must let go of Miranda in order to pursue his own happiness. The repetition of the consonance in ‘weaker’ and ‘daughter’ represent how the loss of his daughter significantly impacted him as they were close, and Prospero has no other forms of close relationships. This loss represents justice given to Miranda, as throughout the play it is evident that Prospero has manipulated Miranda and losing her, gives Miranda a new chance in life.

To be imprisoned is to be confided and the opposite is becoming free through reformation. The act of forgiveness is prominent when examining this theme. Imprisonment plays a significant role in Hag-seed when exploring the ideas of justice in The Tempest because the play is held in prison but also the use of allusions which is quite prominent. Extensively, it is evident in both text that through the many years of suffering and being held captive, whether it may be through thoughts or literally, imprisonment has eventually led to giving peace to those who have been wronged. In Hag-seed, the play is held in a prison, however a symbolic representation of a prison is the mind of Felix and how he has been confided by his past to find his justice. In The Tempest, Prospero and his daughter have been exiled to an island . The modern reading of imprisonment expands on the idea of making those who have done you wrong suffer, in order to give you a peace of mind. Additionally, it views different perspectives of imprisonment to expand on the concept of achieving peace in a feudal reading.

In this epilogue, Prospero informs the audience that the play is over, but idea of imprisonment is still embedded as he is yet to be free. Prospero asks the audience to decide his fate now that he has felt guilt toward his ‘faults’ and ‘crimes’. If the audience clap, he is freed from the island and if they don’t, he stays. As this was written in the Jacobean era, the epilogue reveals various religious symbols. ‘indulgence’ has religious symbolic meaning which is to be freed from sin once you’ve confessed. Prospero also states the he “be relieved by prayer”, which is ideally another religious connotation that ultimately states that he has acknowledged his wrongs and is asking for forgiveness so that he could be free from this ‘prison’. Through the claps of the audience, Propero would be given the justice he wishes, peace.

The irony of this quote is that it can be applied to both himself and Prospero, strengthening the relationship of the concept of forgiveness in both texts. Felix’s epilogue also focuses on freedom, through freeing his Miranda. Felix acknowledging the fact the Prospero has lost Miranda suggests that Felix has also accepted the loss of his own. However, Felix does play the counterpart of Prospero, meaning there is an ideal relationship of forgiveness between these two characters. By speaking on what Felix thinks Prospero’s motives are, this suggests that Felix may even feel the same about his own faults, also asking for forgiveness, however not from the audience but the inmates.

Ideally, Atwood’s approach to the power of women allows the character of Miranda to break free from patriarchal values portrayed in The Tempest. Particularly in Hag-seed, justice holds the concept of freedom. In The Tempest, Miranda is considered to be slightly irrelevant to the plot as she’s controlled by male characters and is given no freedom whatsoever. In contrast, Hag-seed enables female characters to have a voice, therefore exploring the idea of justice.

The symbolism of virginity was quite adamant in the Jacobean era as it symbolises purity. Here, Ferdinand only wishes to be with Miranda if she's a virgin, practically she's being treated like an object. During the talk between Ferdinand and Prospero, Miranda is viewed as an exchange of good, as she is unable to speak between to men and has no choice in determining her future. This represents how women were suppressed and the acknowledgement of justice is not present.

Hag-seed explores justice through the power of women essentially in Anne-Marie. She is deemed to be the opposite of Shakespeare’s Miranda as she is able to defend herself both sexually and emotionally, also she acquires the ability to have agency. This is observed when she defends herself from Wonder Boy. The dissonance between the two text is that females in Hag-seed can work amongst a male dominated workplace whilst also having a voice among those men. 

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