The Faerie Queene Edmund Spenser
The Faerie Queene • Spenser considered “heroical” or epic poetry to be the highest form of poetry • As a humanist, he also revered the classics and often imitated classical forms like pastoral and epic poetry
The Genre • Allegory: a form of extended metaphor in which objects and characters within a narrative are equated with meanings outside the narrative; • In other words, allegory uses characters to personify abstract qualities, represent a historical personage, or symbolize a category of individual
The Genre • The use of personification does not make a work allegorical • The personification must be symbolic • Allegory is usually concerned with highly important matters (damnation and salvation) • May also be used as satire
Allegory in The Faerie Queene • Contains religious, historical, and mythological allegory • Some characters are named for qualities they represent (Error, Despair) • Others have foreign names for their qualities (Speranza = Italian for “Hope”)
Allegory in The Faerie Queene • On one level Redcrosse Knight represents Holiness or Faith • His quest demonstrates how to become a true Christian • He must reject false doctrines and other temptations to sin and cling to the true faith
Allegory in The Faerie Queene • Redcrosse Knight also represents St. George, the patron saint of England • Therefore, he symbolizes England itself • His quest portrays English Church history • England had to reject the “false” faith of Catholicism (according to Spenser) and learn to embrace the “true” faith of Protestantism
Allegorical Characters • Gloriana, the Fairy Queen = Queen Elizabeth • Prince Arthur = a perfect knight, representing England • Arthur is on a quest to find Gloriana • Their union signifies the perfect union between Queen Elizabeth and the country she rules
Allegorical Characters • Una = the “true” faith, Protestantism • Duessa = the “false” faith, Catholicism • Archimago = the Anti-Christ, the Pope • Basically, the idea is that the Pope and his Church are trying to trick England into rejecting the Protestant faith, and returning to Catholic doctrines
Book I, Canto 1 • Gloriana sends Redcrosse Knight on a quest to escort Una to the kingdom of her parents and to deliver them from a dragon that is ravaging their land • The Redcrosse Knight, Una, and a dwarf are riding along a plain till rain forces them into a wood • They become lost and happen upon Error whom the Redcrosse Knight defeats after a struggle
Book I, Canto 1 • They find their way out of the forest and then happen upon an aged sire who is really Archimago • He tricks them back to his home where he causes the Redcrosse knight to have a lustful dream about Una • He then creates a false Una who comes to the Redcrosse Knight's bed, tries to seduce him without success, and angers him.
Canto 2 • Archimagocreates a scene with the false Una in bed with a man, then calls the Redcrosse Knight to show him her seeming unchastity • The Redcrosse knight is so upset he abandons Una at dawn. • He then finds Sansfoy (Faithlessness) and his lady who calls herself Fidessa, but who is really Duessa. (Duessa is the Roman Catholic church) • The Redcrosse knight defeats Sansfoy in battle and takes up with Duessa.
Canto 2 • Duessa tells him she had a fiance, a "prince so meek" (Christ), but he died before they married • The Redcrosse knight and Duessa come across two enchanted trees • One tree says it used to be a knight and Duessa caused him to abandon his lady • When he finally realized Duessa's corruption he tried to escape but Duessa transformed him and his lady into trees • Duessa pretends to faint so Redcrosse leaves with her, unaware that he is with Duessa
Canto 3 • Una continues to search for the Redcrosse Knight • She encounters a lion which helps her find the House of Abessa and Corcecawhere Una may sleep for the night • (Corceca, as she endlessly does her rosary, represents the blind superstition of Roman Catholicism; Abessarepresents the abbeys and monasteries which rob the church, according to Protestant thought)
Canto 3 • Una leaves in the morning and encounters Archimago who is now disguised as the Redcrosse Knight. • Una is deceived and travels with Archimago • Sansloy (Lawlessness) attacks Archimago, thinking him to be the Redcrosse knight. • He removes his helmet to cut off his head and realizes it is Archimago • Sansloyreleases Archimago and forces Una to come with him.
Canto 4 • Duessaleads the Redcrosse Knight to the House of Pride where Lucifera unlawfully rules by "policy" and by virtue of her shiny beauty which amaze her court • Lucifera'scounsellors - the seven deadly sins - ride through in procession • Sansjoy(Joylessness) comes to avenge the Redcrosse Knight for killing Sansfoy • Luciferaorders them to battle out their grievance the next morning • That night Duessa comes to Sansjoy and warns him of the Redcrosse Knight's charmed shield and armor.
Canto 5 • The Redcrosse Knight and Sansjoybattle • Just when the Redcrosse Knight seems about to win, a dark cloud hides and saves the wounded Sansjoy • Night and Duessa take Sansjoyto Hell where he is healed Sansjoy. • Duessareturns to the House of Pride and finds that the Redcrosse knight has left because his "wary dwarf" warned him of the dungeon full of individuals who fell by pride.
Canto 6 • Sansloy takes Una into a forest where he tries to ravish her • Her cries summon some fawns and satyrs and Sansloy is frightened away • The Satyrs worship Una's beauty and keep her with them • Satyrane, a half human satyr knight, happens into the forest and becomes devoted to Una and helps her escape the satyrs • They meet a Pilgrim - really Archimago - who tells Sansloy has killed Redcrosse Knight • Sansloyand Satyrane battle, Una flees in fright and is pursued by Archimago.
Canto 7 • Duessa leaves the House of Pride and finds the Redcrosse Knight • They sin together and the Redcrosse Knight also drinks from a charmed spring which weakens him physically and morally • A giant, Orgoglio (Pride), comes along, conquers the Redcrosse Knight and locks him in a dungeon • The Redcrosse Knight's dwarf gathers his arms, finds Una, and tells her what has happened. • Una meets Arthur who vows to help the Redcrosse Knight.
Canto 8 • Arthur, Una, and the Redcrosse Knight's dwarf come to Orgoglio'scastle • Arthur opens its doors with a trumpet blast. • Orgoglioand Duessa ride out on the many-headed beast to battle Arthur and his squire • Arthur defeats theym with his charmed shield • Arthur enters the castle and finds the Redcrosse Knight who is debilitated and despairing • They try to cheer the Redcrosse Knight and then disrobe Duessa who is revealed to be hideous.
Canto 9 • Arthur says he does not his history know because, as an infant, he was given to Merlin to be raised • He tells how the Faerie Queene appeared to him as he slept and he has sought her since • Arthur parts from Una and the Redcrosse Knight. • Despair nearly convinces the Redcrosse Knight to kill himself • He is saved by Una who snatches the knife from his hand and pulls him from Despair who - foiled - tries unsuccessfully to kill himself
Canto 10 • Una takes Redcrosse Knight to the House of Holiness to recover • The House of Holiness is managed by Caelia (Heavenly Spirit), who has three daughters: Fidelia (Faith), Speranza (Hope), Charissa (Charity) • The Redcrosse Knight is restored under the guidance of Fidelia, Esperanza, Patience, Amendment, Penaunce, Remorse, Repentance, Charissa, and Mercie • These are the Christian virtues
Canto 10 • Una then takes Redcrosse Knight to Contemplation who resides on a hill • Contemplation shows him the New Jerusalem (Heaven) and tells him he is really English and will become St. George • The Redcrosse Knight, after seeing New Jerusalem wants to leave this world - but Contemplation tells him he has work to do • Now restored, the Redcrosse Knight gets ready to undertake his quest again.
Canto 11 • Una and the Redcrosse Knight approach her parents' castle which is terrorized by the dragon • Redcrosse Knight battles the dragon Knight is mortally wounded twice • The first time he falls into the well of life and revives the next day • The second time he falls near the tree of life and revives the next day • Finally after wounding the dragon five times in three days, the Redcrosse Knight kills the dragon.
Canto 12 • Una’sfather, the king, promises his land and Una to the Redcrosse Knight • The Redcrosse Knight says he must first serve the Faerie Queene for six years • The king is about to formally betroth them when a messenger (the disguised Archimago) enters • He reads a letter from Duessa who claims the Redcrosse Knight is already betrothed to her • The Redcrosse Knight and Una explain his previous errors and Duessa's present deception and have Archimago enchained (but he later escapes) • The two are betrothed, then The Redcrosse Knight returns to the Faerie Queene to serve her for six years.