Fathers and Daughters in Shakespeare Fathers and Daughters in Tempest, Merchant of Venice, and Othello While there is an over arcing theme in these plays as to the subject of Father-Daughter relationships in which the mother is absent, even the most cursory inspection shows relevant differences in both the characters and their relationships to one another. That is not to say there follows no similarities. Let’s open with the relationship between Deceased Father/ Portia and Prospero/Miranda. For both of these relationships we have daughters who worship the ground their father’s walk on.
They think very highly of their fathers and are well treated by them. They are kept in good health, and within the best means the father’s can afford given their conditions. Both are well protected from men and maintain their virginity to the wedding bed. In both cases the men they wish to wed are men the fathers would have ultimately approved of. Aside from the most obvious difference of one being alive, and one dead, the true shift in actions of the women to their fathers comes in the way they follow their orders in reference to the men they love.
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
Portia does not tell Bassanio which casket to choose, nor make any attempt to have it made known to him. She is thoroughly adamant about following her father’s will to the fullest degree despite his death. In opposition to this, Miranda twice disobeys her father directly, even as he is watching. When she tells Ferdinand her name and again in a few lines where she announces “But I prattle / Something too wildly, and my father’s precepts / I therein do forget. ” With Shylock/Jessica and Brabantio/Desdemona we again see similarities.
In both cases we have fathers with daughters who have seemingly been dutiful up until the point at which they entertain romantic feelings for men outside of their race. Both daughters rebel against their father’s will, and in both cases the fathers are kept from suing the law to keep control of their daughters. Shylock is forced to use the law of finances to pursue justice against a third party, and Brabantio is denied his suit when he fails to convince the gathered military counsel that the Moor has stolen Desdemona away from him.
In both cases, the fathers see these daughters as marketable wealth. This ideal of a daughter being part of one’s wealth does continue in the examination of Prospero/Miranda and Deceased Father/Portia. Prospero finds Miranda’s chief value in her marriage to Ferdinand and the political alliance that will come with it. This is made clear by his laying the plans for the marriage before ever knowing how she might take to it. He is pleasantly surprised by the fact they do indeed fall in love at first sight but it would be a mistake to assume if they had not, he would have changed his plans.
He does love his daughter, but not perhaps as much as he should.. consider the line referring to her as one third, as opposed to one half. The religious man who had fathered Portia was far more interested in the type of man who would have his daughter for a wife than personal political gain. Despite his proclaimed intent to ensure her suitor was of the wisest and most moral cloth He did still treat her as an owned object to be given away however.
This is evidenced by the portrait in the casket and the game like structure of the challenge. The interesting difference here is that Portia’s father did not seem to care from where the suitor came. Of the four couplings, this is the only one is which there is no direct and clear disposition to the race or homeland of the suitor by the father. This was countered clearly by Portia herself however, who makes assumptions of the Prince of Morocco based on race before she’s met him.