Faerie Queen Edmund Spenser Opens Essay

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SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .
The Redcross Knight symbolizes the new social order of Protestant faith. Furthermore, the Redcross Knight represents "a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline" because he is dedicated to his Christian faith. Because the Knight pursues faith independently of the clergy, he represents the genuine Protestant connection between an individual believer and God. If Spenser's work to be framed not according to the Aristotelian twelve virtues but to the Christian trio of Faith, Hope, and Chastity, then the Redcrosse Knight would be the emblem of Faith. He therefore reappears throughout The Faerie Queen, because he is a "noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline."

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As one of the core Christian virtues, Chastity becomes important in Book Three of The Faerie Queen. Chastity is a gendered virtue, one that is more important for a woman to embody than a man. A woman is burdened with the double standard of remaining chaste, to emulate the core Christian icon of the Virgin Mary. Britomart is the icon of chastity. She pines away for Arthegall, and refuses to be with any other Knight. Britomart therefore becomes the character that Spenser uses to promote the ideal Christian female. The fact that Britomart is a fierce warrior symbolizes the effort that it takes for a soul to be and remain chaste. Chastity is more than just sexual abstinence; it is the strength of spirit that causes one to remain true to one's self and one's dedication to the virtues. This is why, in Spenser's letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, he notes, "a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline," because it is not only a "gentleman" who exemplifies the ideal human.

Essay on Faerie Queen Edmund Spenser Opens, Assignment

The Faerie Queen as Gloriana is the ultimate protagonist and matriarch of her own epic. Whereas the Knights in the story represent specific virtues, they are all subordinate to the great Queen. The Faerie Queen symbolizes Queen Elizabeth, who Spenser praises not least because of her disavowal of the stranglehold of the Catholic Church. Therefore, the Faerie Queen herself presents the method by which a politician can be a "noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline." Representing all worldly and spiritual glories, the Faerie Queen sends off Knights to fulfill their highest duty, which is to perfect their virtues in the name of God. The Faerie Queen is a leader and a coach to those who benefit from her support.

In the opening letter to The Faerie Queen, Edmund Spenser admits he is being somewhat instructive or didactic in his poem. "to some, I know, this methode will seeme displeasaunt, which had rather have good discipline delivered plainly in way of precepts, or sermoned at large, as they use, then thus clowdily enwrapped in allegoricall devises." The theme of desire, of Arthur for the Faerie Queen, plays an important role in Spenser's instructive allegory. It is not only King Arthur who is idealized in The Faerie Queen, of course. The title character deserves all the glory. "In that Faery Queene I meane glory in my generall intention, but in my particular I conceive the most excellent and glorious person of our soveraine the Queene, and her kingdome in Faery Land." However, it is truly Arthur who exemplifies all the Aristotelian virtues, all twelve of them, according to Spenser. "In the person of Prince Arthure I sette forth magnificence in particular, which vertue, for that (according to Aristotle and the rest) it is the perfection of all the rest, and conteineth in it them all." Magnificence in the personage of Arthur represents the ideal human being.

Works Cited

Jusserand, J.J. Spenser's "Twelve Private Morall Vertues as Aristotle Hath Devised" Modern Philology. Vol. 3 No. 3. 1906.

Nestrick, William V. "The Virtuous and Gentle Discipline of Gentlemen and Poets." ELH. Vol. 29, No. 4, 1962.

Neuse, Richard. "Book VI as Conclusion to The Faerie Queen." ELH. Vol. 35, No. 3. P. 329-353.

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