The Tempest Act 1 Scene 2 – Ferdinand and Miranda

In Act 1 Scene 2 Ferdinand is expectantly surprised when he runs into Miranda and Prospero. As they introduce one another Prospero reveals his intentions of imprisoning Ferdinand, which Miranda vehemently protest. Eventually Ferdinand agrees to this on the basis that he gets to “behold this maid (Miranda)” (p. 49) once a day. Discuss why you think Ferdinand would agree to these extreme circumstances just to see a woman he had only met moments earlier.

12 thoughts on “The Tempest Act 1 Scene 2 – Ferdinand and Miranda

  1. I think Ferdinand’s desperate situation, Ariel’s enchantment, and Shakespeare’s need for a dramatic plot all contribute to his decision to accept Prospero’s terms in exchange for a daily glimpse of Miranda. Ferdinand himself admits that he is disheartened by “Father’s loss, the weakness which I feel, the wrack of all my friends” (line 490-91). The culmination of these unfortunate circumstances could be causing him to reach for the one pleasant thing he has encountered recently and take on a “it couldn’t get much worse” attitude. Also, the spirit Ariel has just put a kind of siren’s song over Ferdinand in order to make him be more susceptible to Prospero’s wishes. It could be the result of this enchantment that makes him so willing to agree to whatever Prospero wants as the song has erased his reason and made him think only of love. Finally, there is also the possibility that Ferdinand agreed simply because Shakespeare needed him to in order to move the plot along and make the emotions he is demonstrating through Ferdinand’s character seem more intense and passionate.

  2. This seems to me to be more of a way that Shakespeare wrote to keep the idea of “courtly love” alive. Ferdinand is taken my Miranda’s beauty immediately and says “Most sure, the goddess on whom these airs attend!” (pg 43, ln 505). As the scene continues to play out he actually proposes to her within just a few moments of meeting her when he says “I’ll make you the Queen of Naples.” (pg 45, ln 539) That kind of instant and total devotion to a woman, no matter what her feelings may be, is very much like many cases of “courtly love” that we have read about and discussed so far in class. That kind of devotion is what led Ferdinand to give in to Prospero’s demands so easily.

  3. I think that Shakespeare is following in the footsteps of his predecessors by borrowing a previous generations style and meshing it with his own. Much like Chaucers generation drew upon previous works for their inspiration, Shakespeare uses his style and couples it with the chivalric romance in the earlier Medieval period. Interestingly, Ferdinand also keeps to the chastity ideals, “O, if a virgin, and your affection not gone forth, I’ll make you the Queen of Naples” (538-540) which is reflective of chastity being the best quality in her as a woman. It is without a doubt and also worth mentioning that the audience of this time would be familiar with this style. This should add a degree of humor to the whole scene as a whole, as Ferdinand is about to get put to work to prove his love.

  4. I think Ferdinand’s willingness to be imprisoned definitely dates back to the tradition of courtly love. His devotion towards her is instant and completely engulfing, and he is willing to be imprisoned for no other purpose than to see her face every day, with no promise of her returning his affections and such. His love for her is so encompassing that he has no regard for his own independence or well being, going as far as to say “All corners o’ th’ earth/ Let liberty make use of/ Space enough/ Have I in such a prison” (598-600). It certainly plays into the themes of self sacrifice, servitude and unrequited love seen in the Medieval Texts.

  5. Ferdinand’s desire for Miranda conforms completely to the idea of courtly love of the time period. He is so overwhelmed by his desire for her that “[he]‘ll make [her] the Queen of Naples” (45) as long as her heart is not taken by another. Like we discussed in class, Ferdinand is so engulfed in his sudden need for Miranda’s love that he would do anything to get what he wants. However, unlike some other examples we have read in class, Miranda’s feelings are mutual which would mean that Ferdinand does not have to fight to win her affection because he is “the third man that e’er [she] saw, the first man that e’er [she] sighed for” (45). The difference between this example of courtly love and previous ones that we have seen in other texts and in sonnets is that Ferdinand does not have to fight for her affection, but rather fight for the ability for them to see each other. This is why he would go to such extremes even though they had only just met moments earlier.

  6. Shakespeare often included ideas of fate and star-crossed lovers within his plays, as we’ve all seen before. Within the first half of The Tempest, there is a blossoming love story between Ferdinand and Miranda, which touches on that theme of fate. Ferdinand and Miranda fall in love at the first sight of each other and Prospero is not surprised by this quick attraction. He uses Ferdinand’s weakness for Miranda to his advantage by imprisoning Ferdinand as his servant. Ferdinand agrees because he wants to be able to see his love every day. In Act 3, Scene 1, Ferdinand says “Beyond all limit of what else i’ th’ world/ Do love, prize, honor you” (lines 85-86), which is his confession of love to her and his justification for agreeing to Prospero’s request.

  7. While it as presented as an agreement, it is quite obvious that Ferdinand does not have much choice but to be imprisoned by Prospero. Ferdinand tries to resist arrest “and is charmed from moving.” (564) At this point, it has become clear to Ferdinand that his strength is nothing compared to Prospero’s power; he is powerless. The promise of seeing Miranda every day may have been his way of maintaining a sense of power in the situation.
    Beside the fact that he feels the need to protect his power, Ferdinand thinks he has just witnessed all of his friends die and has not been shown kindness from anyone except Miranda. He knows he has no choice, but to be taken captive; however, having companionship may alleviate the horrible pain he feels. He also knows that Miranda is smitten with him and he may be able to use that to his advantage. Miranda’s conviction of Ferdinand’s freedom is seen when she says “make not too rash a trial of him, for he’s gentle…” (566) While Miranda does not seem to be able to change Prospero’s mind, she may be able to find a way to free this stranger.

  8. I fully agree with the connection Brooke made between Ferdinand’s noble actions and the traditions of courtly love that we’ve studied in our many medieval texts. Shakespeare is definitely borrowing from literary precedent in the way that he uses this depiction of courtly love as a means to advance the plot in “The Tempest”. For Ferdinand, love of Miranda is so deep and intense that he doesn’t profess to care for the strictures of imprisonment, which would be negated by the love, thus rendering him “… Space enough/ Have I in such a prison” (599-600).

  9. I agree with many of my peers in saying that Ferdinands acceptance of his imprisonment on the conditions of being allowed to visit with Miranda is representative of Shakespeare keeping alive the notion of “courtly love.” Upon seeing her, Ferdinand is immediately struck with awe and love, proclaiming, “Most sure, the goddess On whom these airs attend” (43). His instant devotion hearkens to knightly figures like Lanval who are sworn to serve the ones they love regardless of personal harm. It is interesting to note that often these proclamations of intense and devout love are often made purely based on physical attraction. Ferdinand disregards his own safety for a woman he knows nothing about, expect for her physical appeal.

  10. This seems a case of courtly love influence, creating an unrealistically chivalrous male lead who will fall madly enough in love with a woman to submit to unnecessary trials set up by her father. Even if the trial is imprisonment, with only a daily visit from Miranda as a reward. There is influences beyond Ferdinand’s control though as the imprisonment is much more about his father’s betrayal of Prospero than of Prospero’s daughter.

  11. I think Ferdinand’s adoration of Miranda has multiple implications. First I think it is meant to indicate just how beautiful Miranda is. This starkly contrasts with the wicked figure of Prospero and such sets up an effect foil, even more so in that Miranda is his own blood. I think it also testified to Prospero’s power over others. While Shakespeare doesn’t explicitly indicate the use of magic to enthrall Ferdinand, though he is charmed from moving (564), it still seems almost mystical how Miranda’s beauty affects him. Just like his magic, Miranda is a product and at times tool of Prospero and thus the power he has over people is exemplified here. In conclusion I think Ferdinand’s decision to be imprisoned for Miranda’s love is a testiment to both her purity as a character and Prospero’s dominion.

  12. Although I agree that the siren song Ariel put on Ferdinand definitely influences Ferdinand’s compliance with Prospero, I don’t think that, that is the sole reason why Shakespeare had him agree to Miranda’s terms. Its important to note that Miranda is a character of pure compassion and genuine empathy, like mentioned in class. She even says things like “I have suffered with those who I have seen suffer,” and she openly disagrees with her father’s rash actions. Therefore, it makes sense that Shakespeare would have Ferdinand side with Miranda to showcase that those qualities about her are hard to resist. However, Ferdinand is also clearly aware that he has little to no power against Prospero, so by bargaining for Miranda he may have been trying to maintain some leverage against Prospero. I also agree with other blog comments about how this serves as a “courtly love.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>