All 11 entries tagged Faeriequeene

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May 21, 2010

Good luck for the exam!

Tuesday 1st June 2010 (week 6)

9:10am, Butterworth Hall

Best of luck to you all!

March 30, 2010

The Faerie Queene: What Happens Next

In case you're interested in how the stories from Faerie Queene III play out, here's a breakdown of the relevant bits of Books IV-VI.

Book IV (Friendship)

Scudamour is tricked by Duessa and Ate (deity of discord) into thinking that Britomart and Amoret (who are travelling together) are lovers. Only much later does he discover that Britomart is a woman; however, he and Amoret continue to miss each other on their respective travels. We also discover that Scudamour won Amoret through trial.

The False Florimell continues on her travels and winds up in the company of Paridell (as false as ever) and his travelling companion Blandamour, who represent bad friendship. They are contrasted with the Book's titular heroes, Cambel and Telamond, who represent complete accord but only appear in a couple of cantos as a continuation of Chaucer's unfinished Squire's Tale.

Satyrane holds a tournament for Florimell's discarded girdle, which Britomart wins, in the process unhorsing the disguised Artegall. Britomart meets Artegall and they are betrothed. However, to Britomart's disappointment, Artegall postpones their immediate happiness in order to complete his own quest.

Amoret is captured by a lustful monster, but escapes and is rescued by Belphoebe and Timias. Belphoebe is stung by jealousy to see Timias carefully tending Amoret and disdains him. In despair, Timias goes into the woods, builds himself a hermitage and lives alone for several years, until Belphoebe finally forgives him (thus continuing the Raleigh/Elizabeth metaphor).

Finally, Marinell goes to Proteus' palace with his mother for a wedding ceremony and hears the real Florimell's woes. He persuades his mother to bargain for Florimell's freedom, which is won, and the two fall in love.

Book V: Justice

We mostly follow Artegall and his terrifying servant Talus, who is made entirely of iron. Artegall has various adventures dispensing justice, which is usually mercilessly enforced by Talus.

At Florimell and Marinell's wedding, Braggadocchio is finally revealed to be a charlatan and is stripped and whipped by Artegall and Talus.

After Artegall is captured by an Amazon, Radigund, Britomart (pining at home) rides out and rescues him, before returning home while he carries on.

Artegall joins up with Arthur for further executions of justice, and the two witness the arraignment of Duessa by Queen Mercilla for her many crimes. Duessa is beheaded.

Book VI: Courtesy

Our hero for this book is Calidore, who pursues the Blatant Beast, an avatar of slander. Very few of the characters from Books I or III appear, but Arthur and Timias are at last reunited.

March 19, 2010

Re–reading suggestions

Here are some suggestions, questions and discussion points which you might like to bear in mind as you revisit our key texts over the next few weeks in your own time. They're obviously not exhaustive of the points of interest in each one, but this selection specifically tries to prompt some of the important debates and ideas that transcend individual texts and tie the Med/Ren module together.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

In the Everyman tradition of morality dramas, a “blank” human figure is manipulated on a spiritual journey by opposing forces of good and evil. How far is Gawain an “Everyman” figure? Can his spiritual journey be related to that of Redcrosse?

What do Gawain’s armour and arms signify? Think about the other armed knights we meet: Redcrosse, Britomart, Arthur. What happens when armour is removed? What kinds of spiritual, physical and moral protection do the knights depend on?

Gawain journeys from court through wild forests. There is a marked contrast between civilised and untamed spaces throughout our work: Faerie Queene, The Knight’s Tale, The Franklin’s Tale, Wyatt’s translations of Petrarch. How are these figures affected by their environments? What do they mean?

Hunting and love-making are closely linked in Fitt 3, and the figures of Cupid the archer and the chaste huntress Diana pervade Renaissance literature; how are love and violence associated throughout the course?

Honour and chivalric reputation are central to Gawain. What are we meant to understand by these concepts? Compare Gawain with his counterpart in The Wife of Bath’s Tale or the knights of Faerie Queene. How does honour develop?

Canterbury Tales

Cuckoldry and fears over women’s chastity pervade the Tales. How far are women active in seduction (cf Bertilak’s wife), and how far are they objectified (cf Florimell)?

What is a virtuous woman? The Wife of Bath, Dorigern and Emelye have some views. Compare them with the women of Faerie Queene Book III.

How does Fate pervade The Knight’s Tale and The Nun’s Priest’s Tale? Where does man fit into the universe? How much control do we have over our own destinies? Shakespeare and Sidney are preoccupied with this too, while Spenser creates his own mythology about how the universe perpetuates itself in the Garden of Adonis.

How do Chaucer and Spenser utilise fabliau motifs for educational/entertainment value? How does this fit in with Sidney’s theories on the power of poetry in Defence of Poesy? How cruel is their treatment of mankind?

Do the images of Eden in The Merchant’s Tale and Faerie Queene I.xi-xii have anything in common?

How much attention do we need to pay to the narrators of the Tales and their influence on the stories they tell? Can this be usefully compared to the strategies employed by the poets of Gawain and Faerie Queene, or the speakers of the sonnets? How artful are our poets?

Lyric Poetry

How painful is unrequited love? It’s described as an illness, a wound, an act of violence. Compare this to the masque of Cupid in the House of Busirane, or to the contrasting attitudes of Timias, the Witch’s son, Britomart herself, Aurelius (Franklin’s Tale), Palamon and Arcite or Damian (Merchant’s Tale), to name just a few.

How far is unrequited love about the object of love, and how far is it about the lover?

The importance of procreation is a major theme in the first seventeen sonnets of Shakespeare, as well as elsewhere. How far is this a wooing device? Or is there a genuine concern with the continuation of lines? See the importance of Britomart’s lineage and the contemporary concerns over Elizabeth’s heir. How, in all these, is procreation positioned in the ongoing war against time? Think about the Garden of Adonis.

What is the nature of “truth” in lyric poetry? What does Sidney argue is the value of poetic truth? Is truth, in fiction, even important (particularly if you’re trying to teach something)?

Spend some time looking at form and sound. How do the music of the lines and words impact on meaning? How does the formal, rhetorical construction of the whole piece (often built around a ‘volta’ or turn) turn each song or sonnet into an argument?

Faerie Queene

The allegory of Faerie Queene shifts and changes, like a “dream narrative”. How does this allegory compare to earlier stories such as The Knight’s Tale? How can these allegorical reading strategies help you interpret the sonnets? For example, Britomart’s entrance into the castle of Busirane plays on conventional ideas of what “fire” represents.

The formal complaints (rhetorical bemoaning of loss/unhappiness) of Una and Britomart are part of a formal tradition. How do they compare to those of Dorigern, Emelye or the speaker of Howard’s “O Happy Dames”?

How do the “tests” suffered by Redcrosse compare to the Green Knight’s challenging of Gawain?

Faerie Queene Book I is usefully read in light of the Reformation and anti-Catholic discourse. How do these political sentiments translate to the more political sonnets and songs we have looked at? What are the fears and anxieties that underpin the writing of the period?

How does Gloriana, Arthur’s (seemingly) unreachable goal, link to the striving of Petrarch, Sidney and Wyatt after their “loves”?

What are the greatest challenges facing good Christians? How do these challenges relate to those facing Gawain and Dorigern?

March 12, 2010

Work for Week Ten: Book III Cantos vii – xii

Essays are due in the seminar - without fail!

Read Book III Cantos vii - xii

There's a lot of deliberate comedy, particularly in cantos ix and x, and I recommend you refamiliarise yourself with the idea of the falbiau. What is the effect of Spenser's utilisation of fabliau motifs in the context of the book's wider agenda?

Creative Projects: Book III Cantos i–vi

In Book III, Spenser adapts a structure more associated with romance forms, specifically Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, which works by interweaving various narratives with a connected theme. Chronology and plot are thus non-linear on the surface, but thematically unified. Or, as one group member suggested, it's "the Elizabethan Pulp Fiction".

This week, both groups organised their thematic maps around the individual storylines, which is a much more useful way to navigate the plot then reading the Book canto by canto:

Book III Part I: Britomart's story (Group One)


Book III: Britomart (Group Two)


Book III: Malecasta (Group Two)


Book III: Florimell and Marinell (Group One)

Florimell and Marinell

Book III: Belphobe and Amoret (Group One)

Belphoebe and Amoret

Book III: Florimell/Marinell and Belphoebe/Amoret (Group Two)

Belphoebe, Amoret, Florimell and Marinell

March 05, 2010

Work for Week Nine: Faerie Queene Book III, Cantos i – vi

Read Book III Cantos i-vi

Presentations/Thematic Maps: Leisha, Hattie and Catherine (Group One); Heather, Daniel and Kate (Group Two)

Book III is less linear than Book I in these first six cantos, with a lot of back-story and “flashback”, and several different narrative strands to follow.

There are two important conceptual threads that you should be following:

1)    Distinctions between chaste and unchaste love/behaviour.

2)    Representations of Elizabeth, the “Virgin Queen”, paragon of chastity.

This book provides education on the complex nature of Chastity through a variety of exemplars and stories, so try to unpick what Spenser is teaching us.

Also, please close-read: Book III, Canto iv, Stanzas 26-7.

Previously, in Book II.....

* Guyon, the knight of temperance, has achieved his quest, overthrowing the Bower of Bliss and the lascivious Acrasia. His companion is a Palmer (Pilgrim), who provides guidance and good counsel.

* Prince Arthur and his squire Timias have won a major battle, defending the besieged Alma against the dastardly Maleger. Arthur has been sorely wounded in the battle, and is recuperating in Alma’s castle.

* Earlier in the book, Guyon and Arthur spent time in a library where they learned about the great lines of ancestry, leading to Uther (Arthur’s father) in Britain, and Gloriana (the Fairy Queen) in the Fairy Kingdom.

* Elsewhere, we have also been introduced to the vainglorious Braggadocchio, who stole Guyon’s armour and is wandering, posing as a knight, with his sycophantic follower Trompart. In a forest, Braggadocchio encountered Belphoebe, a semi-divine woodland huntress, whom he attempted to kiss, causing her to flee from lust.

Creative Projects: Faerie Queene Book I, Cantos vii – xii

Here are this week's creative interpretations, this time of Faerie Queene Book I, Cantos vii-xii. We've got a map from one group (continuing last week's visual motif) and a diagram and powerpoints from the other. As ever, let me know if you'd like the files themselves, as I know they're harder to read on the blog.

Book I, Cantos 7 and 8 (Group 1)

Group One: Book One, Cantos 7 and 8

Book I, Cantos 9 and 10 (Group 1)

Group One: Book One, Cantos Nine and Ten

Book I, Cantos 11 and 12 (Group 1)

Group One: Book One, Cantos Eleven and Twelve

Book I, Cantos 7 and 8 (Group 2)

Group Two: Book One, Cantos Seven and Eight

Book I, Cantos 9 and 10 (Group Two)


Book I, Cantos 11 and 12 (Group Two)


February 26, 2010

Work for Week Eight: Faerie Queene Book I, Cantos vii–xii

For Week Eight:

  • Read Cantos vii - xii of Book I.
  • Pay particularly close attention to Canto x, which is the climactic section of the moral instruction element.
  • Slow-read Canto vii, Stanzas 12 and 13. Spend some time close-reading this section in the same way that we've worked on shorter Renaissance poems this term.
  • Presentations: Kieran, George and Raj (Group One); Inga, Lucy P and Zoe (Group Two)

Useful passages from Revelation (New International Version)

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (Rev. 20: 1-3)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Rev. 21: 1-4)

The House of Holiness (Canto x):

Some useful cantos for thinking about the roles of key characters in the House (Canto x)

1.    Una (Stanzas 2, 18, 22, 23, 28, 29, 32)

2.    Mercy (Stanzas 34, 35, 36, 44, 45, 50, 51)

3.    Contemplation (Stanzas 46, 47, 49, 52, 55, 60, 61)

4.    Fidelia, Speranza and Charissa (Stanzas 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 22, 33)

Creative Projects on Faerie Queene Book I, Cantos i–vi

As hoped, the groups this week presented interestingly varied takes on the reading, both in terms of what you drew out as important and the ways in which you presented them. Here are the scanned artworks as reminders. I know the text isn't easy to read on here, but all the scans are available as files if you want them, and then you can zoom in and manipulate them as you need.

Book One, Canto One (group one)

Group One: Book One Canto One

Book One, Cantos Two, Four and Five (Group One)

Group One: Book One, Cantos Two, Four and Five

Book One, Cantos Three and Six (Group One)

Group One: Book I, Cantos Three and Six

Book One, Canto One (Group Two)

Group Two: Book One, Canto One

Book One, Canto Two (Group Two)

Group Two: Book One, Canto Two

Book One, Canto Three (Group Two)

Group Two: Book One, Canto Three

Book One, Cantos Five and Six (Group Two)

Group Two: Book One, Cantos Five and Six

February 12, 2010

Work for Week Seven: Faerie Queen Book I Cantos 1–6

1. Reading

Read The Faerie Queene Book I, Cantos 1-6. Give yourself plenty of time - it is a long poem, and dense to boot. Here's the tips from the handout I gave you in class.

  • Keep up momentum – don’t stop in the middle of a canto!
  • Take notes on the plot, and build up a list of characters and their interactions.
  • There are several levels of allegory: political, religious, moral. Use the footnotes to get your heads around the allegorical significance of characters and events as well as their literal role in the plot.
  • The first and last stanzas, as well as the ‘Argument’ for each poem, will often summarise what has just happened or is about to happen.
  • Read Spenser’s “A Letter to the Authors”, which will give you a sense of the overall design of the projected poem.
  • One of the poem’s main purposes is as a moral education, though some lessons are more overt than others. What are these lessons, and what strategies does Spenser employ to get them across? To what extent are readers made to interpret lessons for themselves?
  • While the stanza structure is constant, Spenser’s use varies: sometimes they are narrative, sometimes there are several poetic voices, sometimes stanzas act like miniature lyric poems. How does Spenser use these stanzas to vary pace and influence reader response?
  • Don’t skip over the extended metaphors/similes: these reflections on the action are extremely important. Long visual descriptions can also yield a great deal of information.

2. Thematic Maps

Groups for these mini creative projects:

10am - 11am group 11am - 12noon group
Week 7
Book I Cantos 1-6
Lucy F
Week 8
Book I Cantos 7-12
Lucy P
Week 9
Book III Cantos 1-6


Week 10
Book III Cantos 7-12

In your assigned groups, create a thematic map of the six cantos for the week. This will be in the form of a poster, which you will then introduce to the rest of the group in the seminar.

A thematic map will visually represent the progress of the story and interpret it, drawing out the most significant developments, lessons, parallels and motifs. It will also allow you to explore the allegorical progression alongside the geographical movements of the knights.


  • Important plot events and character movements, and references to any particularly pivotal stanzas.
  • Attention to both fixed locations (e.g. The House of Pride) and more temporary sites (battlefields, . Places are very important throughout the poem.
  • Notes on allegory: e.g. the period for which the Redcrosse Knight is separated from Una (Truth).
  • How is the lead character (Redcrosse, Britomart) developing as he/she encounters obstacles? Try to visually represent these developments.

We will be able to use the posters you create over the coming weeks to track the progress of both books and refer back to key moments. You have full artistic licence – the more creative you are with these, the more effective they will be as memory prompts! If you're stuck for ideas, Figs 14 and 16 on this website show some student examples of a similar exercise, and might prompt some ideas.

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This blog is a resource for students in Peter Kirwan’s seminar groups for Medieval to Renaissance English Literature.

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