The Tempest

Daughters as Means of Power in Shakespeare’s The Tempest College

Familial relationships are the principal driving force behind the plot of Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest. For example, the sole reason Prospero, the protagonist, is on the island is because of his brother, Antonio, usurping him. Despite the plot seemingly revolving around this relationship, in actuality, the entire play mostly concerns itself with father-daughter relationships, more specifically, Alonso and Claribel and Prospero and Miranda. At first glance, it appears that these fathers only want the best for their daughters and are trying to give them lifelong happiness through marriage; however, after analyzing the true motives behind these marriages and Prospero’s constant anxieties about virginity, one can tell that these fathers are solely using their daughters as a means to expand their power.

The only reason that Alonso and his men become shipwrecked on the island and the play is able to take place is due to Claribel’s marriage to the prince of Tunis in Africa. According to Stephen Orgel, the author of this play’s introduction, this marriage was “not a happy occasion, to which the bride went unwillingly, and of which much of the court disapproved” (30). Much of the reason the court disapproved was because the...

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