Q. Analyse the various elements in the character of Miranda dwelling on the beauty of the character.
Q. “The character of Miranda resolves itself into the very elements of womanhood.” Explain and illustrate.
Q. Sketch the character of Miranda and discuss the propriety of her language and sentiments in the scene where she meets Ferdinand.
Miranda is an exceptional creation of Shakespeare. She is a unique specimen of Shakespeare’s conception of womanhood. She has youth, beauty, modesty, tenderness, innosence purity, and natural grace. These qualities make her a fine model of womanhood. Miranda is a matchless woman in her attitude and utterances towards all.
Miranda is a woman of great personal attractions. Her beauty belongs to heaven and not to the earth. Everyone takes her to be a goddess. It does not mean that she belongs to the air and she has no flesh. Actually her beauty appeals differently to different natures. Caliban’s sexual desire is aroused by her physical beauty. For her physical charm F erdinand falls in love with her at first sight. But she is not at all conscious of her beauty. So she has no vanity which is so common in a modern girl.
Modesty and tenderness are two essential features of ideal womanhood. Miranda is modest and tender in her attitude to others. Her heart is also full of the milk of human kindness. She suffers when she sees others suffering. The cry of the ship-wrecked men moves her heart. She is moved with pity when she sees the handsome Ferdinand carrying logs of wood. It is tenderness which prompts her to share Ferdinand’s labour and relieve him in his sorrow. She does not have a tinge of pride in her.
Miranda is both pure and innocent. She is a grown up girl but still she is child like. She does not know the ways of the world. She has no ideas of the social relationship between man a. woman. With her innocence and purity she is the child of Nature. She does not know how. to dc her feelings because she is natural in her utterances. She declares her love to Ferdinand. She is seen to be qune innocent when she says the following words to Ferdinand :
“I am your wife if you will marry me ;
If not, I’ll die your maid,”
The above words prove that she has a pure nature. We feel that Miranda is like Shakimtala in Kalidas. Her reactions are as natural as Shakuntala’s. Her words also have Shakuntala‘s sense of innocent wonder towards the outside world.
Besides Miranda has a cheerful nature which adds to the grace of womanhood. She cannot associate physical beauty with any ugly or wicked thought. She interprets everything for the best because there is no evil in her nature.
Miranda is an ideal daughter who learns things from her father with all love and affection She is obedient to her father, When she happens to tell F erdinand her name, she feels that she has gone against the wishes of her father. This fact also adds to her natural grace From a dear child Miranda has grown into a beautiful maiden just as a lovely bud blossoms into a homer The innocent daughter of a father becomes the sweet-heart of a father in the most natural way. The growth of Miranda’s character is also quite in harmony with the ideal conception of womanhood.
Miranda is the only woman character in the play. Her name is the equivalent of ‘the wonderful one’ or ‘the one who causes admiration’ and her name is symbolic of‘her-beauty, innocence and modesty. When the play opens Miranda -is almost fifteen and for the previous twelve years, she has lived on the island and has known only Prospero and Caliban.
Elemental Womanhood : The character of Miranda is, indeed one of the most wonderful creations of Shakespeare. She is a pure child of Nature like Wordsworth’s Lucy, “created of every creature’s best.” Prospero does not exaggerate in the least when he says to Ferdinand,
Miranda being a type of elemental womanhood; her portrait shows fewer character traits than those of any other Shakespeare can heroine. Some unwise critics have found fault with this. Here Shakespeare is at pains to avoid disturbing in any way the impression that “her heart is an absolutely clean sheet.” Any complexity introduced into the character would have made her appear sophisticated and destroyed the impression.
Her Compassionate and Gentle Feeling: The dominant trait in her character is her pity and compassion. This is shown at the beginning. The very first words she utters reveal her deep pity. The suffering of the shipwrecked party melts her heart: O, I have suffered with those that I saw suffer.’ The cry of the suffering knocked against her very heart. Hence, her piteous appeal to her father :
“If by your art, my dearest father, you have Put the wild waters in this roar allay them.”
When her father relates to her the story of his banishment from Milan, her “heart bleeds to think of the teen” that she had turned him to. Again, when she hears her father mention Gonzalo’s assistance to him, she is filled with a sense of_ gratitude and longs to see that good man. Her nobility of instinct is revealed in that. Being of such a gentle disposition, her heart naturally goes out in sympathy to Ferdinand, when he suffers under the harsh treatment of Prospero. She offers to be his log-bearer for his sake and even disobeys her father for the sake of Ferdinand.
Her Innocence and Simplicity : Another striking feature of her character is her soft simplicity, her virgin innocence, her total ignorance of the conventional forms and language of society. It is most natural that in a being thus constituted the first tears should spring from compassion, suffering with those that she saw suffer; and that her first sigh should be offered to a love at once fearless and submissive, delicate and fond. She has been taught no scruples of honour like Juliet; no coy concealment like Viola; no assumed dignity standing in its own defence. She knows no guile, no convention, no concealment and frankly declares her love to Ferdinand. Nay, she even weeps at her own unworthiness to be his wife. We should not expect a girl of the twentieth century to behave in a like manner in such a situation. She is indeed a perfect child of nature.
This simplicity and innocence is a natural product of the circumstances she was brought up in. She had been cut off from all interaction with human society at the age of three. She had seen no other man than her father. Of the human world she had no knowledge. Her exclamation at the sight of Ferdinand is characteristic of her : “What is’t a spirit ! Lord, how it looks about l Believe me, Sir, It carries a brave form. But ’tis a spirit.” The same sense of wonder is expressed when the shipwrecked party appears before her.
Her Beauty: Miranda’s physical beauty is a reflection of her inner merit. It is quite natural to imagine her nymph-like beauty from the effect she produces on her beholders. The beauty of nature and the music of the place had passed into her body and countenance and made her exquisitely lovely. She impresses her beholders as if she were the goddess of the island and no creature of flesh and blood. When Ferdinand first sees her he exclaims: “Most sure the goddess on whom these airs attend.” The same is the thought of Alonso when he sees her. “Is she the goddess that hath severed us and brought us thus together?” Caliban, who has a fine eye for beauty, is susceptible to her charm and praises her thus before his newly found masters:
“And that most deeply to consider is
The beauty of his daughter; he himself Calls her a non-pareil.”
We can do no better than quote the admirable summing up of the character of Miranda by Mrs. Jameson “The character of Miranda resolves itself into the very elements of womanhood. She is beautiful. modest. tender and she is these only; they comprise her whole being, external and internal. She is so perfectly unsophisticated, so delicately refined. that she is all but ethereal. Let us imagine any other woman placed beside Miranda-even one of Shakespeare’s own loveliest and sweetest creations-there is not one that would not appear somewhat coarse or artificial when brought into immediate contact With this pure child of nature, this Eve of an Enchanted Paradise.