Via bloggingshakespeare.com, here’s an interesting post & slideshow about our young lovers —
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After watching the video, Liz Woledge (if it is the same lady who maintains the blog) really made me see the romance between Ferdinand & Miranda in a new light. I had actually found it romantic that the innocent, untouched Miranda sees a male other than her father for the first time and falls in love with him. However, Liz moved me with her cynical point of view. She alerted me to the possibility that Ferdinand and Miranda just fell in love with each other because they were only ones of their gender on the island, based on availability. It indeed may be quite unpromising when Ferdinand and Miranda go back into the world and see other people more suited to them that they may be attracted to.
Liz’s comments also got me thinking to the topic of Prospero’s play-within-the-play and whether or not the romance is a product of it. The fact that Prospero orders Ferdinand around and that Miranda falls in love with him through the workings of his magic place their romance within the power of Prospero as the playwright. The fact that Ferdinand is the only male that Miranda is exposed to as a result of Prospero’s conjuration of the tempest is an additional placement within Prospero’s power. And the combination of Prospero’s spell on Miranda and her acquaintance with Ferdinand as the first male places the romance in comparison to an arranged marriage.
However, Liz’s mention of the way that Miranda betrays her father by revealing her name to Ferdinand puts the romance out of his power, out of the sphere of the play-within-the-play. It could be interpreted that at that point Prospero starts the play-within-the-play, but then it takes on a life of its own. Or that Miranda’s independent move reflects their romance is of a natural state.
The question of what would happen to the two when they leave the sea for the world after marriage also relates to the play-within-the-play. Once the couple leave the sea, the play-within-the-play and Prospero’s magic are no longer in effect. In that case, it would be quite likely, under the condition that the romance was a product of Prospero’s play-within-the-play, that the two would be exposed to their natural instincts and become attracted to other males and females. Yet, there is also the possibility that Miranda’s aforementioned act of independence would mean that the love is natural and true and they would remain faithful to each other when they enter the world.
That’s a nice comment, Padmini, and some useful speculation about the limits of theater in *The Tempest*. I do think you’d be well served to be very specific about what you mean by the “play-within-the-play.” In *The Tempest*, I’d think that only means the masque of the goddesses in Act 4. You imply here that it also means the actions of Acts 1-3.
Thank you, Dr. Mentz. I had meant Prospero’s conjuration of the tempest as the play-within-the-play. Your question drew my attention to the masque in Act IV, which I had earlier not taken into consideration. Maybe I can have the argument about how the masque literalizes the existence of Prospero’s play-within-the-play. It is similar to A Midsummer Night’s Dream where I had analyzed the production of Pyramus & Thisbe to literalize Puck’s play-within-the-play of the love potion episode.
I found Woledge’s post and video very interesting. I am definitely guilty of shooing away Miranda and Ferdinand because of my obsession with Caliban. I’ve always dismissed Miranda. But as Woledge says there are two ways of looking at the relationship between Miranda and Ferdinand and there are a couple of ways to examine Miranda. I think it would be a fun creative project to write what happens when Miranda returns to Milan with Ferdinand and how she reacts to seeing all of these different men and women.
Well, Danielle, you an read my creative epilogue then… because that’s what it deals with. =) (Though, I can’t promise it will be a great read) I’m glad Woledge picks this issue up. I was so irritated with the “happy” ending that it was nice to hear a bit of cynicism regarding Ferdinand and Miranda’s romance. Everything on that darn island seems so illusory, including the perfect resolution.
I was really shocked to see the exotic portrayal of Miranda, looking almost Medusa-esque, in Woledge’s slideshow. I had always thought of her as an innocent-looking girl (she is only in her teens). That particular costume makes her look like a very sexual, almost Caliban-like creature.
This video is interesting, especially because my project deals with Miranda. I admit I have sided with the more skeptical side of Miranda/Ferdinand. I’m not sure however I would call their marriage the “perfect” resolution as Nicole suggests, simply because of the uncertainty of her character throughout the play. Of course everyone’s reading of the play is different. I guess what I’m saying is, how can a perfect resolution take place on someone so fragmented in the play? As Nicole says, everything is illusory – so it makes me question the formality of the ending. Yet despite all of this, and despite being a dismissive character, she drives the plays ambitions, and she is the only one in the end who ends up with a formal resolution – going from father to husband. I love that dichotomy.
One thing I did disagree with Woledge on is calling Miranda “unpolished” “uneducated” and “rough around the edges.” I would have to disagree. Worldly – no. Child-like – yes. Rough around the edges and unpolished? Not sure about that…
I agree with you, Regina, about reading Miranda as a much more accomplished actor than Liz W. does. I also tend to read her as more combative vis a vis her father than is sometimes assumed to be the case.
To me, Miranda and Ferdinand’s relationship seems more complicated than just “romantic” or “cynical”. Even though I agree that this love was created with a little help from Prospero’s magic, there is an explanation of why and how the feeling is/was able to outgrow into a relationship. Ferdinand is indeed a young prince, “marooned on the island;” however, he, as I see it, does have a choice. He certainly has seen many women in Milan before, though fell in love with Miranda. Ferdinand – as a part of human society, who knows only “the real world” – is fascinated by Miranda’s spirituality (something he probably has never seen before,) and that’s what attracts him most. Such spirituality and naivety were a result of Miranda’s isolation and “careful” education by art, and I believe it will stay with her forever. Thereby, both Miranda and Ferdinand have noticeable limitations of views; and “natural,” but spiritual Miranda, and “civilized,” but truly noble Ferdinand make a perfect couple.
It’s interesting to think of Miranda, whose name means “wonder,” as a figure for spirituality. Do you have some textual evidence to support that? “O brave new world,” I suppose? I wonder about the relationship between naivete and spirituality, as you’re thinking about it here. And, perhaps, also in the Fowles novel.
Miranda in The Tempest seems to be represented very differently in many of the interpretations of the play I;ve seen. There was an old movie that was done by the Low-Budget Production company Corn on the Macabre, which depicts the Tempest as a little more up-to-date, that depicted Miranda as a fictional force that just put a burden on all of the other characters one way or another. She seemed to influence Caliban the most, as she appeared to him as “The Angel and the Devil” sort of thing, as he listened to the Angel initially before the Devil, which is shown in the story as he initially wants to rebel, then doesn’t. To Ferdinand, he longs for a perfect woman, and someone who has control over him, as he has control over others. Miranda then comes to him, almost taking on the role as the sprite, and tells him that he would never find that unless he changed himself. I just figured that this was a little bit of a differing insight than is usually given, and for it to be done by a simple little low-budget horror company, it shows that they do actually have a little bit of intelligence.