The Tempest Essay

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In this essay I will be discussing the representations of Sycorax and Miranda as embodiments of alternative versions of femininity in The Tempest. I will discuss how Sycorax is a representation of a strong, independent and feared woman, whose power and ugliness makes her an outcast to Elizabethan society and how it portrays its women, in that woman were seen as objects to possess and control, and I will also discuss how in contrast, Miranda is seen as an ideal woman of her time, through her beauty, obedience to her father, thus submissive to mans rule and through her naivety. Using the passage in The Tempest where Prospero reminds Ariel about Sycorax, we get an impression about Sycorax, who she is and how she looks to Prospero and Ariel. Prospero Describes Sycorax as a non-white, “Algiers” (1.2.261), who is an old and ugly woman whose outwards appearance seems to mirror her inner malevolence. He describes her by referring to her as a “Blue-eyed Hag”(1.2.269) which is seen supposedly as a mark of imperfection on a woman as at that time the eyes of beauty were most frequently seen as grey or brown, thus symbolically describing Sycorax herself as being an imperfection to society. Prospero also refers to her illegitimacy of her pregnancy within the passage, which suggests lust, “…was hither brought with child...” (1.2.269) another characteristic that is not seen as ideal in a woman. In contrast to Sycorax, Miranda is seen as the ideal woman throughout The Tempest. Many times in the book she is referred to as a “Goddess”, characterised as beautiful, naïve and innocent, everything Sycorax condemns in her ugliness, lack of virtue and appearance of power. Miranda further exemplifies the ideal woman by being a virgin, a woman of virtue, as stated by Ferdinand, “O, if a virgin, and your affections not gone fourth, I’ll make you the queen of Naples.” (1.2.447-449) Where
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