Missy (Melissa) Hanson
Dr. Brooke Kowalke
20 February 2015
Response Paper for The Tempest
Throughout William Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, many different themes and motifs are present. However, power and gender roles strongly influence the directionality of the plot. Specifically, the characters Prospero and Sycorax tend to represent two opposing ideas of what it means to be male versus a female and to have power versus not having power. The patriarchy is one that seems to be led and determined largely by Prospero, however, is a coherent system which is opposite of the system Sycorax represents. By analyzing the actions of the male characters in conjunction with the analysis of the way Sycorax character affects the others in the play, the opposition of gender from the patriarchy is evident. Furthermore, even though Sycorax exists only in the perspective from the male characters, she is thus able to threaten the power of men through her absence.
In the play, the only woman who is physically present is Miranda, Prospero's daughter. Several times throughout the play, she is highly perceived for her virginity or sexual innocence, as seen when Prospero makes certain that Ferdinand wait until marriage to take her sexually (4.1.15). In other words, there is an evident lack of women's physical presence in the play which only allows for a little amount of information to be inferred from the audience, which results in the inability to perform an extensive and full analysis of the female role. Furthermore, the text only allows for a further analysis of Sycorax through the other physically present male characters, who are then responsible for presenting the female role to the audience. Specifically, Prospero is one who continually speaks about Sycorax and her absence from the play, and because of this, there is an evident pull between power and gender. According to Shakespeare, in a conversation with Ariel, Prospero states, " It was a...
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