Patriarchal In The Tempest

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For millennium, human societies have mostly been patriarchal. Men have been in dominant and leadership roles where they have all of the power. Women have been typically portrayed in literature as they would be in normal society: subordinate and weak. This is no different in 17th century England; However, The Tempest contradicts this. William Shakespeare wrote The Tempest in the early 1600s when this cultural stigma was present. The Tempest is a play about a former Duke, named Prospero, with magical powers on a mostly uninhabited island who uses his powers to shipwreck the person who stole his dukedom, Antonio. Prospero lives on the island with his beautiful daughter, Miranda, the spirit Ariel, and the bastard son of the witch Sycorax, named…show more content…
The marriage allows Alonso to gain influence and connections to the King of Tunis that he can use for furthering his own power. Claribel is an example of how women who are obedient and subservient to men are celebrated. Claribel takes part in an arranged marriage with a prince, which is not uncommon for the time. During Shakespeare’s time, women were viewed as property, and marriage was often used for business or political arrangements that signified alliances or collaborations. A woman’s ability to gain power through marriage is shown here. Sebastian comments on Claribel’s wedding saying, “That would not bless our Europe with your daughter,/But rather loose her to an African,” (2.1 119-21). It is clear that Sebastian disapproves of Claribel marrying an African. This demonstrates that there was a reason for her to marry him that would trump racism, otherwise Alonso (who probably has a similar outlook on Africans as Sebastian) wouldn’t allow the wedding. This reason would be politics and power. Having a connection to Tunisian Royalty would give Alonso more influence and power in the Mediterranean for trade and sea exports. Shakespeare’s use of the word “lose” indicates that the Prince of Tunis is gaining something, other than the obvious wife. It is clear that Claribel has the power to unite nations together through marriage and extend power to her…show more content…
Women of 17th century England are supposed to be subordinate to men; however, Shakespeare reveals that it is the women who give power to men. The three women present in The Tempest exemplify this. Men are threatened by Sycorax, since she realizes her power and is an independent women who refuses to give up her power to men. She is consequentially viewed as evil and a threat to society. On the other hand, Miranda maintains her role as the servant to her father and then Ferdinand. Despite this, her bachelorette status plays a key role in giving Prospero power over the Dukedom. Her marriage to Ferdinand gives Prospero the connection to Alonso he needs in order for his plan to be successful. Lastly, Claribel represents the ideal woman of England who obeys her father with her participation in an arranged marriage. Nonetheless, she has power, as she acquires political and economic ties between the two countries that only a marriage could achieve. The overall make-up of the play also factors into Shakespeare’s message because Claribel and Sycorax don’t have any lines. Similar to how women are subjugated despite their importance, Claribel and Sycorax are speechless throughout the play. However, these two female characters are powerful in that they lay the foundation for the entire
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