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...
(The entire section is 2232 words.)
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Acrasia is the mistress of the Bower of Bliss. She is Circe-like in her ability to lure men to their destruction. It takes both Sir Guyon and Prince Arthur to destroy her Bower.
Archimago is an evil enchanter, a satanic figure who uses spells and disguises to lead his victims to sin. He represents Spain and the Roman Catholic Church. After the Red Cross Knight defeats the dragon, Archimago is arrested and thrown into a dungeon. Archimago reappears frequently, always in disguise, and always in an attempt to injure or tempt someone.
Artegall is the Knight of Justice. Britomart has seen his face in a magic mirror and is seeking him. Eventually, Britomart and Artegall are united. Later, the Faerie Queene sends Artegall on a quest to rescue Irena (Ireland) from Grantorto (Spain).
Prince Arthur appears initially as a rescuer of first Una, and later, the Red Cross Knight. Much of the Arthurian legend is incorporated, including the story of Merlin and his role in Arthur's birth. Arthur is in love with the Faerie Queene, whom he has dreamt of but never seen, and is on his way to find her when he encounters Una. After saving the Red Cross Knight and uniting him with Una, Arthur continues on his journey with Guyon. Later, Arthur will assist both Artegall and Calidore on their quests. Arthur is excessively moral and virtuous, serving the Faerie Queene with...
(The entire section is 1048 words.)