How does Miranda's representation in Hag-Seed contrast with women's oppression in The Tempest?

Quick answer:

Although both Hag-Seed and The Tempest feature female characters named Miranda, Miranda from Hag-Seed is only a ghost appearing before her father while Miranda from The Tempest is alive and employs her agency. Although it is ultimately Miranda's voice that spurs her father to action in Hag-Seed, he controls all interpretation of her. Miranda's voice does not spur Prosporo to action in The Tempest, but she is able to deflect his influence and speak her mind at the end of the story.

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The character of Miranda in Margaret Atwood’s novel appears visually and aurally as a ghost that her father, Felix, sees and a voice that he hears. She exists in her father’s memory and imagination. In The Tempest, although Prospero manipulates his daughter, she is alive and has some agency to determine her future.

In Hag-Seed, the reader learns that Miranda has been dead for twelve years but returns in spirit. After her death, he had planned a version of The Tempest that was filled with his ideas of what she would have been like. Her father has become obsessed with the memory of his loss. When Felix hears her voice, he gets the sense that she is guiding him. This idea inspires him to leave the isolated farm and return to work. However, his purpose is not wholesome, so the reader questions how a child can motivate revenge.

The age that Atwood’s Miranda diedthree years oldis the same age as Shakespeare’s Miranda when she goes to the island with Prospero. In The Tempest, Miranda has lived a very sheltered life. After arriving on the island, she apparently never met any other females, and her highly controlling father raised her since she was a toddler. The question of non-male influences is not cast in stone, however, as some interpreters have identified Ariel as a female, hermaphrodite, or transgender person. Prospero is single-minded in his ambitions for his daughter, which correlate with the restoration of Milan to their family line. He even goes so far as to cause a shipwreck in order to bring Ferdinand to the island, where he will become Miranda’s suitor. On her own, she does fall in love with Ferdinand and even speaks up for him to her father. In the end, the two are married. Thus, her own voice is heard in terms of choosing her mate, but she would not have met her future husband without her father’s intervention.

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