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Shakespeare's The Tempest - The Meaning of Brave

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The Tempest:  The Meaning of "Brave"


The word "brave" or a form of the word is used eighteen times in The Tempest by William Shakespeare and has numerous meanings.  The first occurrence of the word is when Miranda is speaking to her father and calls a vessel "brave."  The first one is always easy, the foot note says it means "splendid."  This note makes much sense in this passage, making the boat sound to be big and larger than life, in other words, splendid.  It also makes sense to have the first usage of the word "brave" to mean something positive, especially since Miranda is the one saying it.  Miranda only states "brave" two more times in the play, and again she uses it as an adjective, and again, in the affirmative. 


The first of the two occurs relatively close to the beginning.   When Miranda first sets her eyes on Ferdinand she states, "What, is't a spirit?. . . It carries a brave form" (I.ii.410).   Here, she has never seen anyone except her father and ugly, dreadful, Caligan, so, of course he is g...

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