Shakespheare and Poetry

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Examine the way Shakespeare reveals Ferdinand’s wooing of Miranda in ‘The Tempest’ and the way the relationship starts to develop.

In the play ‘The Tempest’, William Shakespeare reveals Miranda’s and Ferdinand’s relationship starting to develop. He is the playwright. The playwright controls all the characters within the play. One example of this is the way he controls Ferdinand's wooing of Miranda. Wooing refers to the different courting techniques Ferdinand uses on Miranda. This is first seen in act one, scene two, when Miranda and Ferdinand meet each other for the first time. When Ferdinand first meets Miranda, he immediately idolizes her by using personification of the air. He says ‘the goddess On whom these airs attend!’ The character is placing her on a pedestal and worshipping her which is a major feature of courtly love. The exclamation mark that is used emphasises this point. Ferdinand later asks Miranda ‘If you be a maid or no?’ Maid is a shortened form of maiden, an archaic word for an unmarried women or a virgin. This suggests that he wants to marry Miranda but she must be a virgin for them to be together. He fell in love with her the very moment he laid eyes on her but he does sound wary when asking her though. He states his conditions for her to become his wife, assuming his father has been killed in the shipwreck. He says ‘O, if a virgin, And your affection not gone forth, I’ll make you The queen of Naples.’ Shakespeare is revealing the position of women in the 16th and 17th century by Ferdinand telling Miranda that if she is a virgin, he can make her queen of Naples with him as her husband. Ferdinand sounds like he thinks he is now king and has all the power over Miranda. Miranda says to her father Prospero ‘sir, have pity; I’ll be his surety.’ This shows she is determined yet still respectful to her father. She wants him to be kinder to Ferdinand. This gives the audience the idea that in the 16th and 17th century, men had all the power over women.

In act three, scene one, there is a big development within Miranda and Ferdinand’s relationship. Prospero tests Ferdinand’s love for Miranda. Shakespeare uses a juxtaposition of rich and poor in the play. This is seen when Ferdinand says ‘most poor matters Point to rich ends.’ This suggests that he loves Miranda no matter what status she is and even though she is not rich, he doesn’t let it get between them. Nothing can stop them from being together. Ferdinand highlights the worth of Miranda when he says ‘makes my labours pleasures’ which suggests to the audience that he will do anything for the reward of Miranda, and will do any labour that Prospero gives him just to see and be with her. He loves her so much that nothing will ever be too much work for him. Ferdinand uses light language in contrast with heavy work when he tells Miranda ‘these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours.’ Ferdinand speaks nicely about his extreme labour even though it is really tough for him to do. Miranda is sweet and refreshing in his eyes and as long as the thought of her is in his head, he can accomplish any task. Shakespeare gives Ferdinand onomatopoeic language by using the line ‘I had rather crack my sinews, break my back,’ which reveals to the audience that he is so deeply in love with Miranda that he says that he would die for her. This phase sticks in the audiences mind as they now know that he would do absolutely anything to prove his love for her. He emphasises the point that nothing is too much for her. Though Miranda and Ferdinand have only known each other for a matter of hours, Miranda wants to develop their relationship by asking Ferdinand ‘My husband, then?’ This suggests that she can be honest about her inner emotions to him and she is not playing any games with him either as she seems quite keen and naive but serious about it. It shows that she is the dominant one in this relationship, but on the other hand it suggests that she can be very gullible as she has...
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