Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Gloriana, the Faerie Queene, an idealized portrait of Queen Elizabeth. Although she does not appear in the extant portion of the poem, many of the knights set out on their quests from her court, and they often praise her virtue and splendor.
Prince Arthur, the legendary British hero, who represents Magnificence, the perfection of all virtues. He rides in search of Gloriana, who had appeared to him in a vision, and, on his way, aids knights in distress.
The Red Cross Knight
The Red Cross Knight, the hero of book 1, in which he represents both England’s patron, Saint George, and Christian man in search of holiness. He sets out confidently to rescue Una’s parents from the dragon of evil, but he is attacked by forces of sin and error that drive him to the point of suicide. He is restored in the House of Holiness by the teachings and offices of the church and, refreshed by a fountain and a tree, symbolizing the sacraments of baptism and communion, he triumphs in his three-day combat with the dragon.
Una (EW-nah), the daughter of the King and Queen of the West, Adam and Eve; she personifies truth and the church. She advises her knight wisely, but she cannot protect him from himself. Deserted, she is aided by a lion and a troop of satyrs. She is finally restored to the Red Cross Knight, who is betrothed to her after his victory over the dragon.
The Dwarf, her companion, Common Sense.
Error, the Red Cross Knight’s first adversary, a monster who lives in the wandering wood.
Archimago (ahr-chih-MAH-goh), a satanic figure who uses many disguises in his attempts to lure the knights and ladies of the poem into sin and disaster.
Duessa (dew-EHS-seh), his accomplice, whose attractive appearance hides her real hideousness. She represents variously Falsehood, the Roman Catholic Church, and Mary, Queen of Scots.
Sans Loy, and
Sans Joy, Saracen knights who attack Una and her knight.
Fradubio (frah-DEW-bee-oh), a knight betrayed by Duessa and transformed into a tree.
Kirkrapine (KURK-rah-peen), a church robber, slain by Una’s lion when he tries to enter the cottage where she has taken refuge.
Abessa (AH-beh-sah), his mistress.
Corceca (KOHR-seh-kah), her blind mother.
Lucifera (lew-SIH-feh-rah), the mistress of the House of Pride.
Malvenu (MAHL-veh-new), her porter.
Vanity, her usher.
Night, the mother of falsehood, to whom Duessa appeals for help.
Aesculapius (ehs-kew-LAY-pee-uhs), the physician of the gods.
Sylvanus (SIHL-vah-nuhs), the leader of the satyrs who rescue Una from Sans Loy.
Satyrane (SA-tih-rayn), a valiant, gentle knight who is half nobleman and half satyr.
Despair, an emaciated creature who drives warriors to suicide with his sophistic recitals of their sins.
Trevisan (TREH-vih-san), one of his intended victims.
Dame Coelia (CHEE-lee-ah), a virtuous matron who lives in the House of Holiness.
Speranza (speh-RAN-zah), and
Charissa (cha-RIHS-sah), her daughters, Faith, Hope, and Charity.
Contemplation, a holy hermit who gives the Red Cross Knight a vision of the City of God, then sends him back into the world to complete his quest.
Guyon (GWEE-on), the Knight of Temperance, the sternest of the Spenserian heroes, who must violently destroy Acrasia’s power and all of its temptations that lead men to intemperance.
Palmer, his faithful companion, who stands for Reason or Prudence.
Acrasia (ah-KRAY-zee-ah), the Circe-like mistress of the Bower of Bliss. She lures men to their ruin in her world of debilitating luxuriance and turns them into animals.
Amavia (ah-MAY-vee-ah), the desolate widow of one of her victims.
Ruddymane, her baby, whose...
(The entire section is 2232 words.)
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