Discuss Whether Female Sexual Desire Is Central in 'the Tempest'

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Around the time when William Shakespeare wrote The Tempest England was undergoing important movements surrounding women in society. It became very clear that men were striving to suppress women’s equality and this was shown through books and pamphlets created to instruct men on how to control the women in their families. This was furthermore justified by the church, which supported the gender inequality idea. It is thought that the church criticised Eve and therefore all other women for corrupting men and not being able to keep their desires in check. The story of Eve was used to preach that women should be controlled by men and that included anything from their behaviour to sexuality. Consequently it could be argued that Shakespeare has controversially used female sexual desire as a central part to The Tempest linking into how patriarchy was a crucial measure to the era it was written. Miranda is the main female character in The Tempest. The first impression of her is that she is a good 17th century woman because she obeys her father, only speaks when prompted and is eager to please. We see this earlier on in the play when Prospero is talking to Miranda about their history and tells her to ‘obey, and be attentive’ (The Tempest, I.ii.38). Taking what we know from the family values of that era, it can be argued that Prospero’s main aim in the play was to marry his daughter to Ferdinand, which in turn would secure his own future. Of course for Miranda to marry a Prince it is extremely important for her to be a virgin. We see Ferdinand quite openly asking Miranda about her virtue in Act 1 Scene 2 where he says ‘if you be maid or no?’ (426). Ferdinand’s status as a Prince, regardless of their love for one another, means he can only marry a virgin otherwise the legitimacy of their children would be speculated. Furthermore, it would be questionable whether their
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