Shakespeare’s presentation of Miranda is very different from that of the other characters in the play, particularly due to her being the only female character appearing in the story of The Tempest. This immediately makes her an individual character not similar to anybody else, and a huge contrast to the power-hungry male characters surrounding her.
From her first appearance in the play, Miranda is shown to be a sympathetic and caring character by her shock and concern about the storm which her father has caused. She claims to “have suffered with those that [she] saw suffer” – people who she has never met before and believes she will never meet, showing how she really wishes them to be safe and happy. Sympathy and nurturing are typical traits of women in the world, even in Elizabethan England where Shakespeare wrote The Tempest. However, it was not a typical trait of females to go against the wishes of their father – as Miranda does when she criticises his use of power by referring to what she would have done if she were “any God of power”. This criticism of her father draws Miranda away from being stereotyped as a typical woman of the Elizabethan period, as she defies the standards of the patriarchal world. This disobedience to her father’s wishes is also evident when she asks her father to “show pity” to Ferdinand, showing again her conforming to the sympathetic role, but also trying to control her father which would never have been the case in such a society, as the Divine Chain of Being where men are placed higher than women in the scale of authority and divinity. Although Miranda shows her father the respect that a patriarchal male would demand at that time by constantly referring to him as “Sir”, she also understands that not all that he does is acceptable in her eyes, and tries to make him change his ways in order to become for emotion-fuelled as she is. However, try as she might to influence her father’s reactions, he rejects her wishes and demands for her “silence”, showing how he himself knows that he has control over her and rejects her non-conformity to the social roles of the time. As a male in that era, it would not be usual for Prospero to consider Miranda’s views as being right, as his daughter should be obedient, polite, and respectful of his decisions.
As the only female character in the play and on the island, is the main focus of the male character’s desires and lust, besides power. In Act 1, Scene 2, we learn that Caliban attempted to rape Miranda and regrets that Prospero “didst prevent [him]”. However, this act is not one of lust, it is in fact one to gain power. Caliban tried to objectify Miranda’s body in order to populate “the isle with Calibans”. As the only female on the island, Miranda is Caliban’s only chance to gain power, so although he tried to abuse her sexually, it was not to harm her, but to get his revenge on Prospero and to gain back the power and control of his island. This shows how, by some, women are used just as objects and not as people, which is similar to the view that women should be seen and not heard – meaning that women are allowed to be controlled and abused because they aren’t equal to men. Miranda retaliates to Caliban by calling him an “abhorrèd slave” who is “capable of all ill”, which shows a contrast in power. Despite Miranda being the female and therefore Caliban being the dominant male, Caliban is from a “vile race” and is feared as a foreigner by Miranda and Prospero, so they see him as an inferior. Although Miranda is the only character in the play who does not actively search for power, she still seems to be competing with Caliban for dominance.
Ferdinand’s views on Miranda differ very much from both Prospero and Caliban. From the first moment he saw