Discuss The Tempest as purely a romantic play.

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Discussing this play as being purely romantic obviously involves forgetting the many other more serious elements, such as the power of Prospero and the magic that he wields in such a controlled fashion to effectively stage manage what goes on on his island. However, looking at the story of Miranda and Ferdinand alone, it could be argued that this has all of the elements of a romance. Miranda and Ferdinand are thrown together thanks to Ariel's arts, and it is clear from the very beginning that there is an attraction between them. Note how in Act III scene 1, Ferdinand says that Miranda's "sweet thoughts" have the effect of "refreshing my labours" as he toils away. However, at the same time, some critics have argued that Miranda is a particularly faceless character who is very silent and is not allowed to assert her own independence in the play. A key example of this is in Act IV scene 1, when, in front of his daughter, Prospero warns Ferdinand not to have sex with Miranda before they are properly married:


If thou dost break her virgin-know before

All sanctimonious ceremonies may

With full and holy rite be ministered,

No sweet aspersion shall the heavens let fall

To make this contract grow...

Talking about such a topic to his future son-in-law with his daughter present, but clearly not engaging her in the topic adds a distinctly unromantic element to this story. It reminds the audience that however much the bringing together of Ferdinand and Miranda is romantic, there are other forces at play, and that patriarchy is very much alive and well. It also questions the extent to which Miranda's fate is based on her own decision or, on her fathe's will alone, that she shows throughout the play she is ultimately obedient to.

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The Tempest

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