Fathers and Daughters in Shakespeare

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Fathers and Daughters in Shakespeare

Fathers and Daughters in Tempest, Merchant of Venice, and Othello While there is an over arcing theme in these plays as to the subject of Father-Daughter relationships in which the mother is absent, even the most cursory inspection shows relevant differences in both the characters and their relationships to one another. That is not to say there follows no similarities. Let's open with the relationship between Deceased Father/ Portia and Prospero/Miranda.

For both of these relationships we have daughters who worship the ground their father's walk on. They think very highly of their fathers and are well treated by them. They are kept in good health, and within the best means the father's can afford given their conditions. Both are well protected from men and maintain their virginity to the wedding bed. In both cases the men they wish to wed are men the fathers would have ultimately approved of.

Aside from the most obvious difference of one being alive, and one dead, the true shift in actions of the women to their fathers comes in the way they follow their orders in reference to the men they love. Portia does not tell Bassanio which casket to choose, nor make any attempt to have it made known to him. She is thoroughly adamant about following her father's will to the fullest degree despite his death. In opposition to this, Miranda twice disobeys her father directly, even as he is watching. When she tells Ferdinand her name and again in a few lines where she announces "But I prattle / Something too wildly, and my father's precepts / I therein do forget."

With Shylock/Jessica and Brabantio/Desdemona we again see similarities. In both cases we have fathers with daughters who have seemingly been dutiful up until the point at which they entertain romantic feelings for men outside of their race. Both daughters rebel against their father's will, and in both cases the fathers are kept from suing the law to keep control of...
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