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A character study from Shakespeare's The Tempest

The following essay is reprinted from Shakespeare Studies: Papers Read Before The Literary Clinic. F. Hyatt Smith. Buffalo: The Literary Clinic, 1916.

In Shakespeare's The Tempest, Prospero's daughter Miranda is abstract womanhood. She is modest and tender, beautiful and unsophisticated, delicate and refined. She is the Eve of an enchanted paradise. She resembles nothing upon the earth and has never beheld any of her sex. She rises into loveliness from the rocks and ferns. Her playmates are the billows and clouds. Sprites speak to her, the air is vocal to her by her father's art, she appears to others celestial. Her first tears spring from compassion at the shipwrecked sailors. Her first sigh is one of love. Her bashfulness is the unfolding of a rose.

Like a child of nature, she is struck with wonder at her own emotions when Ferdinand, the noble, seeks her hand. He is the chivalrous in man, laying his gifts at the feet of pure womanhood. Byron degraded Haidee into a sensual toy, but Shakespeare made Miranda a blossom sweet as the arbutus springing from the hidden moss. Such a creature could only have had a Ferdinand for a lover. Any other and less sincere a man would have done violence to the play. Her princely father claims her as a thread of his own life, nay "that for which he lives." She surpasses the Eve of Milton for she is more natural. Possibly he studied her for his great creation. She is the goddess of the island.

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