The Tempest

What are Prospero’s motives in creating the masque for Ferdinand and Miranda?.

Act 4

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Prospero's great concern foreshadows the importance of this theme in the betrothal masque; in the masque, Iris makes mention that the couple cannot be together "till Hymen's torch be lighted," her language parallel to that in Prospero's earlier entreaty to the lovers. Prospero reduces his daughter, who is intelligent and worthy, to a mere object, wrapping her with the language of exchange when speaking of her to Ferdinand. Prospero refers to his daughter, not by her name, but as a "rich gift," "compensation" for Ferdinand's pains; he says his daughter has been "worthily purchased" as an "acquisition," further building up his metaphor of his daughter as a thing of exchange. Prospero's metaphors, and overstatement of his daughter's perfection ("she will outstrip all praise") could be meant to distract Ferdinand from what Prospero and Miranda are getting in the bargain. Indeed, Prospero never makes mention of the power and position that he and his daughter are regaining because of this "rich gift," or the true purchase price of his daughter's hand.