Authority in Crisis? The Dynamic of the Relationship Between Prospero and Miranda in Appropriations of The Tempest

  • Magdalena Cieślak University of Łódź
Keywords: The Tempest, Julie Taymor, Philip Osment, Derek Jarman, fathers and daughters


The relationship between Prospero and Miranda is fairly typical for Shakespeare’s way of portraying parental authority and filial obligation. A strong and authoritative father, an absent mother and a (potentially) rebellious daughter are character types reused in many of his plays. In The Tempest, authority, power and ownership, be it political or domestic, are important themes. In criticism, Prospero is frequently discussed through the prism of his attitude to his “subordinates” - Ariel, Caliban and Miranda - and the play’s narrative is interpreted in the context of the theatre of power. Parental authority, a social construct, is a dynamic thing, and the Renaissance patterns discernible in Shakespeare’s plays are refashioned and changed in contemporary adaptations and appropriations of his plays. Informed by New Historicism and Cultural Materialism in relation to gender studies, this article seeks to examine the changing dynamics of the Prospero-Miranda relationship in three films - Derek Jarman’s (1979), Paul Mazursky’s (1982), and Julie Taymor’s (2010) - as well as Philip Osment’s 1988 play This Island’s Mine. Focusing on the issue of authority, power and ownership, the article aims at showing how stereotypical social and gender roles resonate with various political contexts of power.


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Author Biography

Magdalena Cieślak, University of Łódź

Magdalena Cieślak is Assistant Professor in the Department of Studies in Drama and Pre-1800 English Literature, Institute of English Studies, University of Łódź. She specializes in Renaissance drama and the relationships between literature and contemporary popular media in the context of cultural studies. She works now in the areas of cultural materialism, feminism, gender studies and queer theory, and researches the ways in which cinema addresses politically and culturally subversive elements of Shakespeare’s plays. She is a member of International Shakespeare Studies Centre and an Associate Editor for Poland for Reviewing Shakespeare. She has recently co-edited, with Agnieszka Rasmus, vol. 12 of Multicultural Shakespeare: Translation, Appropriation and Performance (Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, 2015) entitled Diversity and Homogeneity. Shakespeare and the Politics of Nation, Class, and Gender.


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How to Cite
Cieślak, M. (2017). Authority in Crisis? The Dynamic of the Relationship Between Prospero and Miranda in Appropriations of The Tempest. Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, (7), 161-182.