Monday, December 3, 2012

Prospero's Control



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.

8 comments:

Christine Richin said...

Kelsey, I think you pose an accurate interpretation of Prospero here. I got the same vibe after reading through the first few acts myself. At this point, it seems plausible to identify Prospero as Shakespeare’s central character of interest. He is literally “the man with the plan,” and although other characters give rise to other plans throughout the play, his is the only one that seems to matter in the grand scheme of things. I mean, if it weren’t for Prospero’s elaborate plan to take back from his brother what was rightfully his in the first place (his dukedom in Milan), then this play would cease to exist. We also know that Prospero is well educated and that he has had many years in exile to construct a fool-proof plan. With these factors in mind, I would consider the control he seems to have over the relationship between Miranda and Fortinbras as one of the many small manipulations that will be responsible for the grand accomplishment of reaching his ultimate goal. And because reaching that goal is so important to him, he will be careful to use the power he does have every step of the way just to ensure that everything goes according to plan.

Hannah Hoffman said...

Kelsey,
I agree with the the" love at first sight " theory, and it does seem like a desperate and it is unhealthy for a young naive innocent girl. I also understand why she might have these feelings , because she feels secluded on the Island, and the only company she finds is her father. Caliban, Prospero's servant who also is a savage monster almost raped Miranda.
When it comes to Ferdinand, Miranda feels a rush of emotions just like any girl would do in todays time. I think that Miranda feels "puppy-love" feelings which can tend to be unhealthy or obsessive.
I agree with your feelings of Prospero's suspicious actions of the courtship of Miranda and Ferdinand. I believe he will try to move the "romance" along and then will try to take control of the relationship and tear them apart in the end. It will be interesting to read the fifth act and see what Prospero's actions are.

Sam Montagna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam Montagna said...

You make a great point about Prospero. If he is in control of Miranda and Ferdinand's love then what do the lovers have control over? Which feelings are real? For me, that would be a scary thought to think about in a relationship. Also, reading this post reminded me of Hermia and how desperate she was with Demetrius. Except, we knew that Hermia was obsessive on her own. To comment on your point about Miranda being desperate, if Prospero is in control, then she may not be as desperate as we think. She may be being manipulated by Prospero to move things along quickly with Ferdinand.

Liz Schiavo said...

I'm glad you blogged about this part, I too got a weird feeling about the love between Ferdinand and Miranda. I agree with you Sam I don't think Miranda is entirley desperate, Prospero is the one in complete control here; yes he's manipulating the situation and moving things along, maybe she's just caught up and these feelings are simply rushed?

Myra Gonzalez said...

I agree there is some suspicion about the relationship between Ferdinand and Miranda especially because Prospero orchestrates their meeting. You have to wonder if he sprinkles a little magic to make there love seem so deep. Then again for Miranda, her innocence makes her love for Ferdinand genuine. I mean she's been stuck on an island with no other men and a good-looking guy pops up up, hey, I'd fall in love with him too. Prospero knows how fragile the love is when he makes Ferdinand promise not to compromise Miranda. He controls their love and their future with his request but also protects the his own self-interests which is uniting the two families.

Jacey Lawler said...

I may just be extremely sentimental, but I enjoy reading the interactions between Ferdinand and Miranda. I think their dialogue contains some of the most beautiful lines in the play. While yes, their romance is a tad strange and Miranda does seem to have an "unhealthy obsession" in our eyes, it makes for great drama. Think about Helena in A Midsummer when she is chasing Demetrius around the forest... it is just so interesting that a similar, passionate romance is occurring in another natural setting. I think Prospero may be interfering with Miranda's love life, but Helena had similar "desperation" revealed in her speeches about Demetrius which occurred before she came in contact with any of the supernatural. Maybe Shakespeare is illustrating the capturing and consuming effect that love can have over humans, especially vulnerable young women.

Cyrus Mulready said...

There is no doubt that Miranda is a laughably naive character--one of her final lines, "O Brave New World that has such people in it!" really is a laugh line. The audience knows that these "people" really don't deserve her admiration. But this is another of the "experiments" Prospero undertakes on the island--how will this child, who has never known human society except for her father and (arguably) Caliban respond? Her natural reaction of love and desire is perhaps Shakespeare's argument that, deep down, we desire love and companionship. Could this be his argument that the systems of marriage and reproduction are therefore natural and to be desired? It was hard to reach such a conclusion in Midsummer, for instance, but I think you could make that argument here.