How is Miranda and Ferdinand's relationship important to The Tempest?

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The function of the relationship between Miranda and Ferdinand in this play seems to serve a number of different functions. On the one hand, Ferdinand's union with Miranda is something that is deliberately stagemanaged by Prospero, who, it is clear, ordered Ariel to separate Ferdinand from his father and his father's retainers so he can be lead by Ariel towards a separate part of the island, where he can meet Miranda and the two can fall in love. Note what Ariel tells Prospero about what he has done with the sailors in Act I scene 2:

The King's son have I landed by himself,

Whom I left cooling of the air with sighs

In an odd angle of the isle, and sitting,

His arms in this sad knot.

At every stage, Miranda and Ferdinand's relationship is carefully overseen by Prospero, who, with the precision of a director, manages their time together and their feelings towards each other. This is on the one hand part of Prospero's plan to return to his home country and take up his former position. Marrying his daughter to the king's son can only secure his return to power and also secure her future. However, at the same time, critics have pointed out the way in which Miranda is presented as nothing more than a meek, obedient daughter, who stands by whilst her father and future husband talk casually about Ferdinand taking her virginity. What is stressed through this relationship is Prospero's power, not only over spirits and creatures such as Caliban, but over those who are, in theory, nearest and dearest to him.

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