The Language of Love

Love! I wonder if any of us would be satisfied with “falling in love” with the first person we meet (not including our father and creepy step-brother). Love does taint our eyes and whisper unspeakable things into our ears. However, in the case of Shakespeare’s Tempest, it seems that Prospero has taken it upon himself to fulfill that duty to his daughter Miranda. The entire relationship that develops between Ferdinand and Miranda is entirely of Prospero’s making. The orchestrated encounter is nothing natural as Prospero orders Ariel to play musical matchmaker. Even Prospero’s chat with Ferdinand regarding Miranda’s virginity, in simple terms, is frank (as if she were a gift not to be opened before Christmas day). Does this mean Miranda’s love for Ferdinand is untrue?

In this blog post I wanted to point out few things that stood out when thinking about Miranda and her individual dialogue between Caliban and Ferdinand. I am comparing these two beings as love interests; even though, Caliban’s main impulse was to simply use Miranda as means of populating the island. There is no romance there but then again, is the romance between Ferdinand and Miranda natural either? When Miranda is first greeted by Ferdinand’s presence, she is star struck as “a thing divine, for nothing natural/ [she] ever saw so noble” appears (pg. 124, l. 418-419). The moment their conversation begins, Ferdinand thanks the heavens for the language that allows him to communicate with our said goddess Miranda. Now let’s compare this reaction to that of Caliban’s. When Miranda scolds him for his disrespect she exclaims, “I pitied thee,/ Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour” (pg. 120, l. 352-353). Here Miranda opens up about her disappointment and regret in trying to teach Caliban language so that he may live a life with knowledge and adoration for books. Yet Caliban’s response, quite contradictory to that Ferdinand’s, goes, “You taught me language, and my profit on’t/ Is to know how to curse” (pg. 121, l.362-363). One man exclaims his appreciation for language that brought him closer to Miranda and the other despises it, calling it only a means to curse. Growing up with readings and valuing books above all (due to Prospero’s interest), Miranda finds love in a man who does not diminish that importance. There is not a definite answer to my previous question but Miranda’s interests are clear. She may be a wondering character and possibly convenient prop but she does possess passionate feelings regarding language and that taste contributes to her relationship with Ferdinand.


Ferdinand and Miranda having fun

Click to enlarge.

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