Pick any one character in William Shakespeare's The Tempest and compare him or her with characters from two other Shakespeare plays.

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At first glance, one might not see much in common between the innocent, sheltered Miranda and Portia of The Merchant of Venice, who knows the world well enough to be able to disguise herself as a a lawyer and successfully plead a case; however, the two women share likenesses.

First, each is the daughter of a powerful father who goes to lengths to control his daughter's marriage choice.

Second, each young woman has the capacity to lash out harshly against a character who is an "Other." Miranda has hard words for Caliban, a "monster" who tried to rape her, while Portia has hard words for Shylock as a Jew lacking in mercy.

Third, and most importantly, both women share the trait of empathy. For instance, Miranda is upset when she thinks the men on the ship caught in the tempest might drown. Portia famously states that the "quality of mercy is not strained" (overburdened with use). Both women put a high value on compassion, at least toward people who haven't violated their moral norms.


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