How would you describe Prospero's relationship with Miranda based on his use of language and magic in The Tempest?

Prospero's use of magic in Shakespeare's The Tempest denotes a controlling relationship with his daughter, Miranda, but his words show that he's nonetheless a loving and caring father to her.

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In act 1, scene 2 of Shakespeare's The Tempest , Prospero assures his daughter, Miranda, that "I have done nothing but in care of thee" (1.2.19). On one hand, this is true. On the other hand, Prospero seems never to do anything without an ulterior motive, even those things that...

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In act 1, scene 2 of Shakespeare's The Tempest, Prospero assures his daughter, Miranda, that "I have done nothing but in care of thee" (1.2.19). On one hand, this is true. On the other hand, Prospero seems never to do anything without an ulterior motive, even those things that he does out of love for Miranda.

Prospero has controlled Miranda's education and intellectual development and shielded her from care and worry. Prospero can put Miranda to sleep when he needs to conduct business with Ariel, then wake her at will when his business is concluded.

Prospero's magic powers ensure that there's order on the island, which provided a safe and stable living environment for Miranda for the past twelve years, and benefit Prospero, the spirit Ariel, and the grotesque Caliban as well.

Prospero uses magic to control Caliban, who's a threat to Miranda and who has already tried to molest her. For that offense, Prospero confines Caliban to a small, rocky part of the island which he can leave only to do chores and other things that Prospero commands.

Prospero released Ariel from inside a pine tree where Caliban's mother, Sycorax, imprisoned him, but Prospero then enslaved Ariel to do his magical bidding around the island. Prospero periodically threatens to return Ariel to his arboreal prison if he fails to obey Prospero's orders.

When the ship carrying Prospero's brother, Antonio, as well as Alonso, the King of Naples, and others who helped Antonio to usurp Prospero's dukedom comes near Prospero's island, he uses his magic, along with Ariel's assistance, to shipwreck the passengers and strand them on his island.

Shipwrecked with Alonso is his son, Ferdinand, a potential husband for Miranda, but Prospero has ulterior motives for bringing Ferdinand to the island—to facilitate the return of his dukedom—and uses his magic to subjugate and demean Ferdinand until he can prove his love for Miranda.

With his dukedom restored, however, and Miranda planning to be married on their return to Naples, Prospero vows to give up his magic powers, set Ariel and Caliban free, relinquish his control over those he shipwrecked on his island, and pardon all of those who wronged him, including Antonio and Alonso.

PROSPERO. But this rough magic
I here abjure...I'll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I'll drown my book (5.1.55.62).

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Though Prospero loves Miranda, he is a controlling father, one who is determined to keep her under his persuasion. He keeps Miranda in ignorance about their true identities as exiled nobility until the start of the play (twelve years after they were exiled). However, he seems to have done this to preserve her innocence and sense of goodness. He views her largely as his reason for living, as her welfare was the main thing that kept him going when they were banished from Milan. However, this love is stifling and keeps Miranda dependent upon him.

Miranda is around fifteen years old when the play begins, but Prospero still treats her very much like a small girl, scolding her for not "marking him" throughout his expositional speech in act one, scene two. When he speaks with Ariel later in the same scene, he does not allow Miranda to be privy to their plan; he casts a sleeping spell upon her. Another example of Prospero using language to manipulate Miranda is when he claims Ferdinand is more like "Caliban" compared to other men. Miranda replies that even if that is so, Ferdinand is still good enough for her. Prospero is manipulating his daughter's emotions, stoking a sense of teenage rebelliousness in her.

As much as Prospero loves his daughter, it is evident from this act that she is as much a pawn in his game as the shipwrecked men are. Whether or not she ever becomes truly independent of him is a matter of debate, since his opposition to her being with Ferdinand is only a ploy (a ploy which succeeds) to draw her closer to the young man.

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Prospero certainly loves his daughter Miranda, but their relationship is an unequal one. His use of language and magic indicates that he holds the power. At Miranda’s first appearance, she wishes that she were a “god of power,” perhaps like her father. She wants to save the ship that her father wrecked. Instead of explaining his plan before he took such a drastic action, he only tells her that no one was harmed after the shipwreck.

Moreover, Prospero notes, “I have done nothing but in care of thee.” He has kept Miranda’s origins a secret until now, in spite of her curiosity. Though he kept his daughter in ignorance in order to protect her innocence, this act created yet another power imbalance between them. When Prospero finally reveals that he was a duke, he uses commanding language, such as “Obey and be attentive,” “Thou attend'st not,” and “I pray thee, mark me.”

In spite of Prospero’s strictness, he states that Miranda as a baby was not a burden but “a cherubim / Thou wast that did preserve me.” She saved his life by giving him the strength to live in spite of being banished and sent out in a dangerously unfit boat. Immediately after telling her this story, he puts her to sleep: “Thou art inclined to sleep; 'tis a good dulness, / And give it way: I know thou canst not choose.” Once again, Prospero takes away Miranda’s agency.

Throughout the rest of the play, Prospero pretends to disapprove of Ferdinand, whom he secretly wishes to marry Miranda. He tests the young man in an attempt to make him work for love. Prospero reveals none of this to Miranda, who is in love with Ferdinand. Prospero’s behavior as a father demonstrates that he loves his daughter and wants the best for her but that he also wishes to control her and remove her agency.

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