The love between Ferdinand and Miranda is rather suspicious, in my opinion. For one, they have only seen each other once, before falling madly in love. Of course, love at first sight comes to mind, but their love seems to be a desperate, all-consuming embodiment of a rather unhealthy obsession with the other person. Miranda’s innocence and naivety is another aspect of her immediate love that makes the sincerity slightly unbelievable.
She says herself, “nor have I seen
More that I may call men than you, good friend
And my dear father. How features are abroad
I am skilless of” (3.1.50-53).
This declaration could attest to the pureness of her love, but for me, it simply reads as a rushed willingness produced from her inexperience. She’s alone on the island, confined to the company of her father and the savage beast she calls Caliban, but as soon as she sees Ferdinand, she automatically knows that what she feels is love and that she must speak to him and ask for him to marry her, regardless of what her father has said.
“I am your wife, if you will marry me.
If not, I’ll die your maid. To be your fellow
You may deny me, but I’ll be your servant
Whether you will or no” (3.1.83-86).
Her desperation and somewhat pathetic readiness to throw herself at his feet leaves me wondering whether this is all genuine, or a fabricated emotion that plays right into Prospero’s ultimate design.
Even as Prospero is secretly watching the interaction between Miranda and Ferdinand, he comments aside “Fair encounter
Of two most rare affections! Heavens rain grace
On that which breeds between ‘em” (3.2.74-76).
I couldn’t help but suspect that he had some sort of hand in speeding this odd courtship along, perhaps by enhancing their feelings for one another. He makes it clear at the end of this scene that he is not very surprised by this turn of events. He planned their meeting and contrived their feelings for each other in order to advance his own personal agenda and I can’t help but wondering if he is in complete control of the two young lovers.