Mothers in William Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

Mothers in William Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay

Length: 1498 words (4.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Mothers in William Shakespeare's The Tempest

Although Miranda’s mother and Sycorax never actually appear in The Tempest, their memories occupy a precarious position in Prospero’s will to power. Prospero invokes the memory of Miranda’s mother to legitimize his lineage, yet feels threatened by the control she exerts over it. His narration deftly erases his wife’s presence from Miranda’s memory, rendering him the sole purveyor of his daughter’s imagination. Prospero employs a discourse which affirms maternal authority through the denial of female sexuality. He negates the legitimacy of Sycorax’s matriarchy by constructing Sycorax as not only an evil witch, but also an unchaste mother. Such a discourse opposes Caliban’s claim to the island while justifying Prospero’s usurpation of power.

Although Miranda recalls having four or five female attendants, she has no memory of a mother. Indeed, Prospero alludes to his wife only once during his recount of the events which forced him from Milan to the island:
Prospero: Twelve years since, Miranda, twelve years since,
Thy father was the Duke of Milan, and,
A prince of power –

Miranda: Sir, are not you my father?

Prospero: The mother was a piece of virtue, and
She said thou wast my daughter; and thy father
Was Duke of Milan, and his only heir and princess no worse issued. (1:2:52-58)

Miranda’s unwitting question provokes a strange response from Prospero. He admits to relying on his wife’s word that Miranda is his daughter. In doing so, he reveals his alienation from Miranda’s birth and the possibility of illegitimacy. Miranda’s mother’s power to bear children exerts a threatening cont...

... middle of paper ...

...ief invocation of Miranda’s mother asserts the purity of his lineage, yet also divides Prospero’s parental authority. In suppressing his wife’s presence, Prospero emerges as Miranda’s sole guardian, fashioning his daughter into his most prized possession. Prospero constructs Sycorax as an unchaste witch (foiling his construction of his own wife) in order to enslave Caliban and prevent him from polluting Miranda’s body. Although Prospero overpowers Caliban with magic that is unrivalled in Sycorax’s absence, he cannot silence Caliban’s claim to the island via a matriarchal lineage. His rhetoric literally bastardizes Sycorax’s dynasty, but is not convincing enough to remove the shadow of doubt cast by Caliban’s matriarchal discourse. Sycorax’s memory emerges as point of contention, compelling readers to question Prospero’s narrative, and thus his claim to power.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

William Shakespeare 's The Tempest Essay

- In modern society, the relationship between a parent and child is an ever-changing one. Although, parents of different cultures play different roles for their children as they grow up. In a time from Elizabethan England to the late 19th century Ireland, the fifth commandment, states, “Honor thy father and mother” although, most importantly “honor thy father” was the basis of the parent-child relationship. It was a patriarchal society and the daughters in these ages were possibly the greatest victims of that time—As the famous Scottish Reformer, John Knox said, “Women in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey men.” Furthermore, the men regarded women in these times as “the weaker...   [tags: Family, Marriage, Mother, Elizabethan era]

Powerful Essays
1190 words (3.4 pages)

Oppression Of Women By William Shakespeare Essay

- In the 1600s, married women were expected to do anything for their husbands. Husbands were urged to be good heads of their families and to treat their wives with kindness and consideration. The woman were considered to be the 'weaker vessel ' and thought to be spiritually weaker than men and in need of masculine guidance. During this time, women were treated as inferior being who were meant to look after the house and were to children . Women were treated with little dignity. In “The Tempest,” William Shakespeare was able to show the oppression of women throughout the play....   [tags: Gender, Gender role, Marriage, The Tempest]

Powerful Essays
1296 words (3.7 pages)

The Tempest By William Shakespeare Essays

- Intro: The Tempest, a famous play written by William Shakespeare shows the restricting powers of a dominant culture. The play is filled with drama between two characters Prospero, a leader of the island and Caliban, his slave. It wasn’t until the late 1960’s a postcolonial revision of Shakespeare’s play was made by Aime Cesaire named A Tempest. Both versions of of the play approached the New World culture and the power to rule over someone. Rob Nixon author of Caribbean and African Appropriations of The Tempest critiques the value of an unstable social society....   [tags: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, First Folio]

Powerful Essays
1735 words (5 pages)

William Shakespeare 's The Tempest Essays

- Discoveries may or may not be enlightening for the individual, though the context of colonisation of others and migration to new lands. William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, presents various ideas through the context of European colonisation, where an individual is faced with the issues of discrimination, language barriers and the overall idea of others perceiving them contemptuously. Shakespeare presents the native ‘Caliban” using harsh language and the invaders using negative imagery to describe him; yet the intellectual transformation of Caliban is seen through his discovery of poetic language....   [tags: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Moons of Uranus]

Powerful Essays
1192 words (3.4 pages)

William Shakespeare 's The Tempest Essay

- “Discoveries can challenge or renew our perceptions of ourselves, others and the world” The challenging nature of a sudden or unexpected discovery can alter an individual’s perspective in various ways, resulting in the re-evaluation of a human beings belief, values and behaviour. The journey of discovery in which an individual accomplishes new insights and perspectives, allows them to procure understanding into their own individuality, as well as being able to envision their strengths and weakness....   [tags: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Psychology]

Powerful Essays
1011 words (2.9 pages)

Essay about William Shakespeare 's The Tempest

- In the comedic, yet thrilling play, The Tempest, William Shakespeare uses characters such as Caliban, Alonso, and Ariel to show Prospero’s immense cruelness and pure monstrosity. Moreover, these Shakespearean characters are also used to highlight Prospero’s change in character into a kinder and more forgiving person. Prospero starts the play out as a vengeful monster, after an illuminating moment however, his persona transforms into his true identity of a compassionate man. Prospero’s relationships with others prior to his personal epiphany were highly unpleasant to say the least....   [tags: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Caliban]

Powerful Essays
1062 words (3 pages)

William Shakespeare 's The Tempest Essay

- William Shakespeare is often considered to be the greatest playwright in the history of the Western world. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare wrote and directed performances of his plays at the Globe Theatre, which continue to be performed around the world to this day. As technology advanced, different renditions of Shakespeare’s plays have been put on, from televised recordings to radio shows to film adaptations. Many of Shakespeare’s popular plays such as Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream have been adapted into films in recent years....   [tags: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Djimon Hounsou]

Powerful Essays
1300 words (3.7 pages)

The Tempest the Play by William Shakespeare Essay

- The Tempest the Play by William Shakespeare Ruler’s in general face many problems, as is the nature of having power and authority. However rulers like Prospero face even more difficulties, as Prospero has the ultimate power of magic and can control and manipulate people and their actions, more so than a natural ruler. The first difficulty presented is an issue, which is dealt with throughout the play: the idea of how much or how little to intervene. From the beginning of the play we are told of how and why Prospero is usurped from his dukedom, “I thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated/ To closeness, and the bettering of my mind/ With that which, but by being so retired, O’er-prized all...   [tags: Tempest William Shakespeare Essays]

Powerful Essays
1262 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on William Shakespeare's The Tempest

- William Shakespeare's The Tempest Love, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a “strong affection”, a “warm attraction”, an “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern” for another. It is “to feel a passion, devotion, or tenderness” for another. Love is simple and yet so utterly complex. Love is that which has the power to build you up and when taken away has the potential to knock you down. The Tempest by William Shakespeare is a political play with a love story woven throughout it. This tale of passion is one that is presented through Prospero’s daughter Miranda and Alonso’s son Ferdinand....   [tags: William Shakespeare Tempest Essays]

Powerful Essays
2094 words (6 pages)

Essay on Trinculo in The Tempest by William Shakespeare

- Trinculo in The Tempest by William Shakespeare In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Trinculo is a minor comic character whose main ambition is to align himself with whomever is the perceived leader in any situation he finds himself in. He is an intrinsically sociable person, and he gains whatever social rank he can through positioning himself in accordance with those around him, but never seeks to be the leader. In this way, he is the perfect jester, always seeking to stand by the king's side....   [tags: Tempest William Shakespeare Trinculo Essays]

Powerful Essays
1192 words (3.4 pages)