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Faerie queene

Faerie Queene Introduction

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Faerie queene

  1. 1. THE FAERIE QUEENE (1590) The Faerie Queene is bigger than anything Chaucer or Milton wrote; it is, in fact, enormous. It reveres Chaucer, Malory, and Skelton for writing in English; it flaunts its affiliations with Homer's Odyssey, with Vergil's Aeneid, with Ovid's Metamorphoses, and with the Renaissance Italian epic romances that Spenser says he wants to 'overgo': in other words, to be bigger, better, and smarter than.
  2. 2. Setting: Faerie Land, aka England Edmund Spenser's poetry today seems a description of impossible fantasy scenes. However, a major inspiration for these faerie realms was the glittering splendor he saw in Elizabeth's court. We might also think that his emphasis on knights and jousting is another manifestation of fantasy; yet these, too, had their basis in Elizabeth's court: although gunpowder had put an end to the era of armored knights carrying lances on horseback in real battles, jousting and tournaments were much alive as forms of entertainment for Elizabeth and her aristocracy.
  3. 3. The Faerie Queene  is an epic poem      (like Paradise Lost), a personification allegory, and a romance. A Romance is a long piece of narrative literature in either prose or verse, that tells the story of a chivalric hero who is on a long quest filled with misadventures and supernatural disturbances to save a damsel. It is nearly always set in a pastoral setting with pit stops at many castles. It has little to do with romantic roses and candles and weddings and way more to do with slaughtering beasts and raiding castles and challenging other knights accused of theft or sexual assault or disloyalty.
  4. 4. The Chivalric Code was guidance for knights within the feudal world of the Middle Ages. A Christians Duty to God: protecting the innocent, being faithful to the church, being the champion of good against evil, & being generous and obeying God above the feudal lord A Warrior's Duty to Christian Countrymen: mercy, courage, valour, fairness, protection of the weak and the poor, and the servant-hood of the knight to his lord A Courtier's Duty to Women: gentleness, graciousness, protection, and service to all women
  5. 5. The Middle Ages (aka the Medieval Period) (no longer known as the Dark Ages) Between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance (500- 1500) a time when art and knowledge was confined to the Catholic church and monasteries. Very few countries or languages we know today existed. It was a time when small kings rewarded fiefs to feudal lords who ruled over knights and vassals who protected peasants and serfs who worked the land. [The Faerie Queene (1590) was written during the Renaissance but set in the Middle Ages and written in language that resembles Middle English]
  6. 6. The Faerie Queene claims outright to be moral philosophy, which is comprised of two parts -- ethics and political philosophy. If the poem is about philosophical questions, why all the gruesome violence? The Genre of the Romance provided Spenser with a medium in which he could explore the relation of tyranny and violence to social structures. Most of The Faerie Queene was written in Renaissance Ireland. There, the English were engaged in the brutal suppression of a series of rebellions Irish lords, and the country was in a terrible and terrified state. In Spenser's prose tract he tells about an English captain who bragged about placing the severed heads of recently executed Irish rebels along the pathway to his tent so that if any local person came to beg a favor from him, she or he would be suitably undone by seeing the heads of her relatives or neighbors on the way to her English governor. C. S. Lewis wrote that Spenser's involvement in English colonization in Ireland 'corrupted his imagination,' leading the poet into using allegory as a kind of moral justification for such gravely immoral acts as Lord Grey's massacre of some 300 Irish and Spanish soldiers, women, and children at Smerwick, which we think Spenser
  7. 7. An allegory is an extended metaphor. It is defined as a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted (as a whole extended piece) to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral, religious, or political one. An example would be each of the stories in Aesop's Fables, like foxes for tricksters, hares for impatient show-offs and turtles for seemingly lazy people; or like Jesus' parables, like his story of the prodigal son or the beggar Lazarus; or like Animal Farm critique of socialism. The Faerie Queene is called a personification allegory because each character represents something in Spenser’s anti-Catholic, pro-Church of England theme.
  8. 8. The Plan Spenser planned for 24 books: 12 based each on a different knight who exemplified one of 12 “private virtues,” and a possible 12 more centered on King Arthur displaying twelve “public virtues.” He never finished Book 7. Book I: Holiness = Red Cross Knight Book II: Temperance = Sir Guyon Book III: Chastity = Lady Britomart Book IV: Friendship = Sir Cambell Book V: Justice = Sir Artegall Book VI: Courtesy = Sir Calidore
  9. 9. Redcrosse The Redcrosse Knight is the hero of Book I; he stands for the virtue of Holiness. His real name is discovered to be George, and he ends up becoming St. George, the patron saint of England. On another level, though, he is the individual Christian fighting against evil--or the Protestant fighting the Catholic Church.Redcrosse represents the individual Christian, on the search for Holiness, who is armed with faith in Christ, the shield with the bloody cross.
  10. 10. Una Redcrosse's future wife, and the other major protagonist in Book I. She is meek, humble, and beautiful, but strong when it is necessary; she represents Truth, which Redcrosse must find in order to be a true Christian. For a Christian to be holy, he must have true faith, and so the plot of Book I mostly concerns the attempts of evildoers to separate Redcrosse from Una.