Miranda and Ferdinand

The relationship between Ferdinand and Miranda takes an interesting turn in Act 3 scene 1. The two love birds are both young and innocent in their views of the outside world. Focusing on Miranda, because of her limited interaction with people, it strikes me as odd that she would fall in love so quickly with Ferdinand, considering he is the only other male she has known other than Prospero and Caliban. It seems like a typical, maybe even Eurocentric creation to have an innocent woman fall in love with someone she just met. Considering what we were talking about in class, whether or not European laws and the European order of things would persist on a land far away from Europe, such as on the island, I think that the relationship between Miranda and Ferdinand both agrees with this and does not agree with this. The silly little flirting between the two and the falling in love on first sight seems typical of other Shakespearean characters and therefore probably representative of European courting. Yet, since Miranda has not grown up in Europe under European law, her taking the lead in the relationship is quite revolutionary. She is the one who initiates the conversation about her love for Ferdinand. Miranda is the one to ask Ferdinand “Do you love me?” a question that traditionally should be asked by the man to the woman. Miranda is also quick to finish Ferdinand’s work so that he may rest saying “If you’ll sit down/ I’ll bear your logs the while. Pray give me that; I’ll carry it to the pile.” She does not have a sense of gender roles or of fulfilling gender stereotypes. For her, she wants to help the man she loves with his work and she wants to be the one who asks the questions (or wears the pants) in the relationship. She even asks him to marry her saying “I am your wife, if you marry me.” She is breaking down the European gender stereotypes and does not know it, probably because to her stereotypes do not exist.

While she represents a forward thinking woman, one who breaks down what is expected of her and does what she wants by taking charge of her relationship, this could be because she does not know what the gender roles are. For her, Ferdinand is basically the only man she knows. So if he or her father does not tell her that marriage is really a business transaction used to secure both families in to more fortune, then she is just acting on her own human instincts. However, parts of European culture are seeping through the cracks onto this island because the way in which she falls in love so quickly has characteristics of European women. Not to mention she wants to get married and marriage is not something that is innate human behavior but, rather something that is a social construction so, there has to be some European influence for her to want to get married in the first place. However, I think that for the most part, the actions she takes with Ferdinand shows that there is an alternative way to live that is not centered around European culture or European politics.

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One thought on “Miranda and Ferdinand

  1. caitgee7

    It is very interesting that you bring up similarities of some type of innocence between Ferdinand and Miranda. In the beginning of Act 4, scene 1 Ferdinand and Prospero speak about Miranda’s innocence and virginity. I think this spark comparison shows the differences between Miranda and Ferdinand, because of this emphasis of being chase and virtuous until their wedding night. Miranda’s virginity puts a stark different of knowledge and experience between herself and Ferdinand. Like you said, her only experiences of men have been Caliban and her father and in comparison Ferdinand is from an entirely different world with exposure to information, social norms, and possibly his own experience(s). While women must be reputable, men are not held to the same standard. There are no real implications thats Ferdinand gets around, but still it seems bizarre to be having this type of sexually charged conversation with her father, Prospero. Creepy.
    Prospero has kept his daughter innocent, and although we have knowledge that Caliban has attempted to rape Miranda we also know he doesn’t succeed. Being isolated on an island with few men really makes Miranda a prized possession. Ferdinand basically has a guarantee that she is a virtuous women since she’s lived her nearly all her life.

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