In the Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, what are the specific themes and structure of Book 1 ? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Book I of the Faerie Queentakes the reader on the epic adventures of the Red Crosse Knight. Spenser once said of this knight the following: "The first of the knight of the Redcrosse, in whome I expresse Holynes" (Maclean, H. and Prescott, A.L. Edmund Senser's Poetry. Norton and Company. New York. 1993. p.2). The red cross on his shield clearly represents his devotion to the Christian church (Catholic at the time of publication) and to the principles and values associated with Christianity.  Redcrosse represents a Christian man who must go through many trials and tribulations before winning the prize that he seeks. It is as if the true Christian must show commitment to duty and self-sacrifice in order to qualify to the blessings of heaven. This is shown by blindly following orders (or duty) without question. The hope at that time was for a person to get to the point of giving up before finally being saved or finding a way out of the trouble they find while defending truth and righteousness. Specifically, themes include duty, sacrifice, devotion, commitment, honor and goodness.  Spenser also says, "The generall end therefore of all the booke is to fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline" (Maclean & Prescott, p.1). One of the rewards that Redcrosse gets at the end of his trial is a wife named Una.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial