Spenser emphasizes the necessity of doing one's duty and taking responsibility to finish the quest throughout The Faerie Queene. Several heroic heroes appear throughout the poem, each given a question to answer and a monster or demon to eliminate. In order to defeat the monsters, each hero needs a weapon; therefore, he or she must go on an adventure and find one. Spenser uses this idea to encourage his readers to be brave and to fight for what they believe in.
The Faerie Queene is filled with action and adventure! Throughout the poem, Spenser creates scenes that mimic battles between good and evil. He does this to make his readers feel like they are part of these battles and want them to see how important they are. Spenser wants his readers to understand that nothing can stop the ultimate victory of good over evil!
Another theme present in The Faerie Queene is loyalty. Spenser shows that loyalty is vital in fighting evil because some characters will do anything for their king or country. For example, Edmund, the first knight we meet, believes that his duty is to kill King Arthur but soon changes his mind after learning that it was his friend Lancelot who had done harm to the king. Even Spenser himself was not always loyal to England's throne, since he wrote The Faerie Queene while in exile in Ireland.
The Faerie Queene (1590–96), Spenser's masterwork, is a Protestant nationalist epic in which the villains are presented as saints. The poem's form is influenced by Italian romance, such as the split into books and cantos and the innovative energy of the entrelacement (the continually bifurcating and infolded narrative). The story focuses on the conflict between the English monarchy and their rebel subject, Queen Elizabeth I. However, it also contains many allegorical elements that appeal to readers across modern lines of division.
The Faerie Queene has been described as "the first great popular novel in English", and it is certainly the first major work of fiction that reaches a wide audience. It is written for a mixed audience including children but also adults who will find themes including courtly love, honor, loyalty, sin, redemption, and salvation. The poem was an immediate success; within four years of its publication it had gone through at least six editions.
Spenser chose not to identify any characters as good or evil; instead, he showed each person's true nature through their actions. While reading the poem, we are invited to judge each character ourselves rather than accept an authorial judgment over them. This allows us to discover that even the villains can be understood, thus reducing their impact somewhat.
The main villain in the Faerie Queene is the Red Knight, who represents rebellion without repentance.
The whole epic poem is "cloudily enwrapped in metaphorical devices," according to Spenser's "Letter of the Authors," and the goal of publishing The Faerie Queene was to "form a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline." The work was also intended as a defense against accusations by religious leaders that Elizabeth I was affording license to women by allowing them to read and study poetry. Thus, writes Spenser biographer Charles Johnson, "The Faerie Queene "is at once "a book for wives and mothers" (Spenser) and a defense against those who would deny literature to ladies.
Faerie Queene I begins with a prologue spoken by Aernath, a figure from Welsh mythology, and it sets forth several themes that will be important throughout the epic: honor, virtue, glory, and love. Aernath tells us that Arthur has been invited by the Queen to visit her kingdom of England and that he should make sure to wear his best clothes when he arrives.
Arthur makes his way to London where he meets with the Queen and she invites him to stay with her at Windsor Castle. He agrees and during his stay there he sees all of England under the influence of the Evil Duke who wants to go back to war. When Arthur refuses to fight too, the Duke sends him back to Wales where he can live out his life in peace.
Edmund Spenser's (1590) epic poem The Faerie Queene Spenser stated that one of his goals for this book was to "make a gentleman or noble person into a good and kind student." For his epic, Spenser created a new poetry form known as the Spenserian stanza. He also included allegories that explain human behavior through the virtues and vices. Finally, he wrote about the power of love in our world and in the world of fairy creatures.
Spenser wanted to show that it was possible to be both virtuous and successful. Therefore, he decided to use himself as an example for his readers. As you will learn below, Spenser succeeded in writing an entire book while living at the court of Queen Elizabeth I.
He also managed to do this while publishing several other books during this time period. So not only did he write one whole book, but he wrote another whole book while he was still working on The Faerie Queene!
Finally, Spenser wanted to include descriptions of beauty among the virtues and sins. So he included characters based on real people such as Queen Elizabeth I and King Henry VIII. Today these characters are used as examples of what is right and wrong behavior. Spenser hoped that his readers would learn from his examples and try to be more like him when dealing with people outside of the fairy kingdom.