An Analysis of Spensers The Faerie Queene

In The Faerie Queene, Spenser creates an allegory: The characters of his far-off fanciful Faerie Land” are meant to have a symbolic meaning in the real world. In Books 1 and I, the poet follows the Journeys of two knights, Redcrosse and Britomart, and in doing so he examines the two virtues he considers most important to Christan life-Holiness and Chastity. Rederosse, the knight of Holiness, is much like the Apostle Peter: In his eagerness to serve his Lord, he gets himself into unforeseen rouble that he is not yet virtuous enough to handle.

His quest is to be united with Una, who signifies Truth–Holiness cannot be attained without knowledge of Christian truth. in his immature state, he mistakes falsehood for ruth by following the deceitful witch Duessa. He pays for this mistake with suffering, but in the end, this suffering makes way fr his recovery in the House of Holiness, aided by Faith, Hope, and Charity. Win newfound strength and the grace of God, he can conquer the dragon that represents all the evil in the world

Differently, Britomart also progresses in her virtue of chastity She already has the strength to resist lust, but she is not ready to accept love, the love she feels when she sees a vision mistakes (to show to us the consequences of characters in Book Il who show the destructive power of an unchaste lie.

Spenser says in his Preface to the poem that his goal is to show how a virtuous man should live.

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The themes of Book | and Book Ill come together in the idea that our native virtue must be augmented or ttransformedd in itis to become true Christian virtue. Spenser has high regard for the natural qualities of creatures; he shows that the saty, the lin, and many human characters have an inbox inclination toward the good. And yet, he consistently shows their failure when faced with the worst evils. These evils can only be defeated by the Christian good.

High on Spenser’s list of evils is the Catholic Church, and this enmity lends a political overtone to the poem since the religious conflicts of the time were inextricably tied to politics. The poet is unashamed in his promotion of his beloved monarch, Queen Elizabeth; he takes considerable historical license in connecting her line with King Arthur. Spenser took great pride in his country and NHS Protestant faith, He took aim at very real corruption within the Catholic Church; such attacks were by no means unusual in his day, but his use of them in an epic poem raised his criticism above the level of the propagandists. As a purely poetic work, The Faerie Queene was neither original nor always remarkable; Spenser depends heavily on his Italian romantic sources (Ariosto & Tasso), as well as medieval and classical works llike The Romance of the Rose and The Aeneid. itis Spenser’s blending of such diverse sources with a high-minded allegory that makes the poem unique and remarkable. He can take images from superficial romances, and courtly love stories. and tragic epics alike, and give them real importance in the context of the poem. No image islet full of fSpenser’ssers pen that does not have grave significance, and this is The Faerie Queene the richness that has kept high among the ranks of the greatest poetry in the English language.

Book ill concerns the virtue of Chastity, embodied in the knight Britomart. Canto I begins by praising Chastity, “That fairest verte, fare above the rest (lli.4)~ The poem picks up where it left off a the end of Book I: following Sir Guyon (the hero of Book I) and Arthur. The two knights are searching for the Faerie Queene to offer their services to her. Ring across an open plain, they see another knight approaching, with his spear advanced. Sir Guyon charges buts is knocked off his horse by the strange knight, wh tums out to be the famous Britomart, a warrior damsel. Arthur makes peace between her and Guyon, and they ride on together. Suddenly they see a young lady run past them, pursued by a forester who intends to rape her. Arthur and Guyon pursue them to save the lady, but Britomart continues onward; she has another quest in mind.

Approaching a castle, she sees in front a ring of six knights who are attacking a single valiant warrior. Britomart rushes to intervene, but the six knights say they have no choice. They are the servants of the lady of the castle, enforcing her decree: Whatever man passes by there, he does not have a lady, he must serve the lady of the caste; he does have a lady, he must admit that his Jove I less fair than the lady. The knight they attack is Redcrosse, who refused to profane the name of his love, Una. Then, Britomart challenges the decree and brings down four of the six knights before they accept defeat. The eight then enter Castle Joyous. It is sumptuously decorated, with tapestries depicting the story of Venus (the goddess of love) and Adonis. Britomart presents herself before the lady of the cast, Malecasta, who does not realize that the knight is a woman-for Brtomat refuses to take off her armor.

Malecasta, a lusty lady, is inflamed with passion for the knight, but Britomart misinterprets her affection as harmless friendship. When the castle is asleep, Malecasta sneaks over to Britomart’s bed and lies down beside her; the warrior maiden wakes up in shock and, leaping from the bed, draws her sword, Malecasta seeing that her love is a woman, cries out and fain, Hearing her scream, the six knights of the castle and Redcrosse rush to the room, but Britomart fights them off again. She is and Redcrosse fee! they have overstayed their welcome and left.

As they journey on, Redcrosse asks Britomart about her purpose in Faerie Land. She speaks in Sorrow, Saying that she is looking for a knight called Arthegall who has dishonored her. No dishonor has been done—she is in love with Arthegall but tempts Redcrosse to praise him by ‘speaking ill of him. Britomart’s father had a magic mirror given to him by Merlin; it could show the viewer whatever he or she desired to see. By chance, Britomart had come across the mirror and, not yet knowing love, had asked to see the man she was destined to marry. She saw a handsome knight and was struck with love; soon, she could not sleep at night. She had never felt llove before and was amazed at the hold t had on her. Her nurse, Glauce, finally earned from her what was the matter– she was after that she was in love with a shadow. She had no way of knowing if the mysterious knight even existed; ithe did, where did he live? What was his name? Glauce tried to comfort her and sed every kind of medicine and advice she could think of, but Britomart could not be consoled and began to waste away with the pangs of hopeless love.


As with Book |, Spenser begins Book It with a classical-style Invocation of his Muse, Clio, and a ‘humble criticism of his poetry. However, in this book, we will see how the poet is far more Influenced by the Italian romantic epic than the classical ep. Homer and Vigil were extraordinary poets, but they were not most preoccupied with the subject of love; for this, Spenser finds Ariosto and Tasso much more useful. He imitates them in the character of Brtomar, the warrior maiden; in the theme of bate fighting to defend a maid’s honor, and in the involvement of magical characters (like Erin, whom we will see in the next Book). Of course, The Faerie Queene is also very different from the Italian romances; Spenser treats the tals of ove with high seriousness and makes it part of his ever-present allegory of Christian right wrong. As a whole, the poem is more indebted to the Italian genre than anything else, but in the end, its mood and the meaning under its surface are Spenser’s original creations.

Just as Redcrosse was (oF became) the ideal personification of Holiness, Britomart is Chastity. She represents this by the purity of her love for Arthegall-which admits no lust-and by her resistance to those who would try to corrupt or dishonor true love, like the six knights and Malecasta, However, she also has other qualities, which show Spenser’s view of chastity as a central and many-sided virtue, In modem times, we tend to see chastity simply as the avoidance of lust, but for Spenser its something more positive. Britomart is strong in battle, which reflects the strength of will that chastity gives a person; in fact, her strength saves Redcrosse, which proves that chastity is essential to holiness. Outside of battle, though, she is weak and humble, showing the Christ-like sides of chastity. Of course, Britomart also shows some weakness in these first two cantos, when she is nearly ruined by the love of the strange knight in Merin’s mirror, This is due to her inexperience; jjust like Redcrosse, she is in some need of maturing

Another similarity between Book | and Book Il! is the use of a House (castle) to represent a particular Virtue or vice or group of several. Here in Canto I, we have the House of Joyeous Goyfulness), Which does not seem like anything bad or immoral. We see, though, that the place has a most un-Christian joy: the joy of carelessness and the indulging of pleasures. Malecasta, appropriate to her name~hich means “badly chaste’~is the opposite of Britomart, just as Duessa was the opposite of Una. Her “love” is nothing but physical desire; mistaking Brifomavt for a man, “her fickle heart conceived hasty fre..she was given all to fleshly lust. And poured forth in sensual delight Spenser makes fun of Malecasta’s “fickle hart” by having her accidentally fall for another man-she is 50 fast, she doesn’t even wait for fora the knight to get out of his (or her) armor. It is a sign of Britomart’s innocence that she does not immediately see Malecasta’s desire for what it truly is. likewise, her vision is clouded by the sight of Arthegall in her father’s mirror; rather than rejoicing that she will have such a fine husband, she frets over the new feeling in her heart. She misinterprets it Yet [she] thought it was not love, but some melancholy Glauce, her nurse, tries to comfort her, saying, “For who with reason can you aye reprove. To leave the semblant pleasing most your mind. And yield your heart, whence ye cannot remove  That’s, love is in accord with reason, is not tainted by lust. and is fated anyway, so why resist? Britomart resists because she cannot admit that any feeling so strong can still have this negative view of virtue is what she must change in the course of the Book.

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An Analysis of Spensers The Faerie Queene. (2022, Jun 12). Retrieved from

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