Gender Inequality In The Tempest

1321 Words 6 Pages
In the early 1600’s, achieving gender equality wasn’t exactly the number one priority for most Europeans. William Shakespeare, however, sought to speak up and use his writing as a means of addressing this problem, among many other major social and cultural issues as well. His play, The Tempest is intended to be a microcosm of seventeenth century Europe: a society in which it was normal for women to be not only overshadowed by men but also objectified for their value as wives and child-bearers. Ultimately, Shakespeare’s goal in re-creating European society in his play was to criticize the male-dominated hierarchical system that existed within it. At the time when The Tempest was written, a man, namely, the father, would unquestionably be at …show more content…
In royal families, this practice was, in a way, symbolic of the transfer of power from father to son-in-law. Therefore, the daughter’s only sense of value came from her role as a wife. Similarly, in The Tempest, Prospero formally approves of Miranda’s marriage to Ferdinand solely because Ferdinand is the prince of Naples, and his union with Miranda would give Prospero a tie to royalty. In Act four, Prospero says to Ferdinand: “Then as my gift and thine own acquisition worthily purchased, take my daughter” (IV.I.13-14). Without a single line from Miranda herself, Prospero essentially gives her to Ferdinand as though she were a precious gift that he had earned. The nature of how Prospero “tenders” his daughter “to [Ferdinand’s] hand” (IV.I.6) is blatantly dehumanizing and patriarchal. Another parallel to the objectification of women that took place in Shakespeare’s time is demonstrated in Caliban’s words of encouragement to Stephano and Trinculo when he is persuading them to kill Prospero. As a way of making this idea more appealing to them, Caliban mentions that “that most deeply to consider is the beauty of [Prospero’s] daughter” (III.II.97-98). Essentially, in promising that they would automatically get to keep Miranda as a prize if they were to successfully kill Prospero and take over the island, Caliban is objectifying Miranda for her value as a wife. In …show more content…
Specifically, the dehumanizing treatment that Miranda is given on the island in the play is a re-creation of how women were regularly treated in real life. Unfortunately, although Shakespeare’s message that women should not be objectified is now believed to be right and true, it was perhaps too advanced for his time. While it was brave of him to use literature to suggest that his culture’s social system was immoral and corrupt, it did not have that great of an effect in changing

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