Love at first sight is a common theme in literature. Plots often revolve around whether the love is real or just an infatuation. Real love can withstand obstacles to end with the lovers living happily ever after. William Shakespeare’s The Tempest tackles this theme with the immediate and intense love of Ferdinand and Miranda. Ferdinand finds himself stranded and alone on an island and is willing to do anything to find some hope of surviving. He is grieving for his father and desperately searching for anything that will help him. He meets Miranda, finds himself in love at first site, and willing to do anything to be close to his new love. Ferdinand’s life takes a drastic turn when he proves his love for Miranda by not fighting Prospero but willingly becoming his imprisoned slave.
Ferdinand is trying to come to terms with the loss of everyone and everything he has known, when his luck changes by meeting Miranda. Ferdinand is stunned; he has gone from a prince in line for the throne to a survivor stranded on an unfamiliar island. Before he can make sense of his situation, he hears a song about his dead father that must be coming from the gods of the island. The music is soothing his grief and then to his surprise he meets Miranda. Ferdinand says to Miranda,
On whom these airs attend! Vouchsafe my prayer
May know if you remain upon this island,
And that you will some good instruction give
How I may bear me here. My prime request
(Which I do last pronounce) is (o you wonder!)
If you maid or no? (1.2. 424-427).
Ferdinand’s most immediate response was wanting information from Miranda about how to survive on the island. However, his feelings of romance overtake his instinct to survive when he asks, “If you maid or no?” He must find out if she is the goddess singing the song or if she is a human he is falling in love with. Miranda is just as overwhelmed by meeting Ferdinand having only seen two other men in her lifetime; she too falls instantly in love with Ferdinand. In the first part of the quote Ferdinand is showing his vulnerability by asking what he should do to stay alive on the island. This shows that he is willing to do a lot to stay alive. The second part of the quote shows that he is confused and lost emotionally and physically. Ferdinand does not disguise how lost and isolated he feels when talking to Miranda. He is thrilled that she speaks the same language and now he starts to feel hope that he can survive and wants to do anything to be with his new love.
When Prospero hears Ferdinand telling Miranda about the death of his father and being the new King of Naples, he is pleased to see the love blossoming between Miranda and Ferdinand, but he is concerned it is happening too quickly. Prospero needs to test the depth of Miranda and Ferdinand’s love to be sure it can become a lasting relationship. Prospero decides to turn on Ferdinand by denying that he can be king and instead makes him his slave. Ferdinand starts to fight Prospero but gives into him stating he has no strength to fight. Ferdinand pleads, “Might I but through my prison once a day / Behold this maid. All corners else o’ th’ earth / Let liberty make use of. Space enough /