The Faerie Queene Essay - Suggested Essay Topics

Edmund Spenser

Suggested Essay Topics

Introduction and Book I, Cantos i-iv
1. The Redcross Knight and Una love each other, yet he abandons her because he suspects that she is not chaste. Further, the pair travel together not out of love but because Una has a task she wishes the Redcross Knight to complete. Describe the kind of love they have for each other. Also, the Knight is strong and brave, while Una is wise, careful and in need of protection. These are stereotypes of men and women. How does Spencer use these stereotypes to reinforce his ideas of their kind of love?

2. Duessa deceives Fradubio and then the Redcross Knight because she is beautiful and acts as if she is chaste, yet secretly she is ugly and evil. How does the reader know that Una is not similar? What clues does Spencer provide that Una is good and Duessa deceitful? Discuss their names and the way that the Redcross Knight meets each Lady, as well as her influence upon him.

Book I, Cantos v-viii
1. In Book I, Redcross makes a series of mistakes. First, he battles the monster Error. Then he believes the Archimago’s deception and abandons Una. He rides with Duessa, who is linked to Catholicism and duplicity. He lingers in the House of Pride, fights a prideful battle, and then is captured by Orgoglio. Discuss Redcross’ descent into error as a sign of his inherent sinfulness. Argue for the inevitability of his gradually worsening situation, and then discuss the role of Prince Arthur in saving him.

2. Discuss the possibility of free will and choice in Book I of the Faerie Queen. Did Redcross cause his own entrapment and imprisonment by ignoring Una’s advice and failing to believe in her chastity? Do you think Redcross have avoided all pain if he had listened to and believed in Una from the beginning? Discuss the role of the Archimago’s false vision, Duessa’s call out to Sans joy, and Fradubio’s story as points of choice for Redcross in this Book.

Book I, Cantos ix-xii
1. Redcross spends time with Duessa in the House of Pride, which is ruled by Queen Lucifera. He later spends time with Una in the House of Holiness, which is governed by Dame Celia and her three daughters. Compare the House of Pride and the House of Holiness. Pay particular attention to their effects upon Redcross in terms of his own perception of himself and his ideas about his place in the world.

2. The Redcross Knight is placed to be a hero from the beginning of Book I. However, his weaknesses continue to appear until his stay in the House of Holiness. He is subject to pride, lust, and deception, is unfaithful to the Lady he loves, and even after being rescued by Prince Arthur he walks into the cave of Despair. Defend Redcross as a hero and Christian. Are his failings common to all humans? If so, how can he overcome them at the end of Book I? If he is a particularly weak man, how can he be the hero? Duessa’s role as a symbol of Catholicism means that Redcross betrays Protestantism in the course of Book I. How can a betrayer be a good Christian and later a saint?

Book II, Cantos i-vi
1. Spencer divides the world into those of noble blood and those of common, base blood. In addition, he divides the characters into those of Faerie and those of worldly blood, and those are further subdivided into...

(The entire section is 1376 words.)