Spenser and Shakespeare offer their own version of the nature of justice through female characters, Mercilla in Book V of The Faerie Queen and Portia in The Merchant of Venice....
You know that moment in a horror movie when you wish could you tell the main characters to under no circumstances split up, or ohnoohnoohno don't go into that abandoned motel? That, dear Shmoopers, is exactly the emotion that The Faerie Queene is trying to get you to feel. Substitute "serial killer clowns" for "dragons" and "shuttered insane asylums" for "fake Garden of Edens" and you have The Faerie Queene: an epic poem that will have you shrieking and covering your face with a pillow, because you just know what's going to happen next.
Finally, the study suggests that Spenser – himself subjected to analysis following the model – abandons his ambitious self-appointed quest to complete The Faerie Queene in favor of a modestly successful completion of a surrogate quest to achieve personal and literary renown, a quest embodied in the Amoretti.
The approach invokes a motif-driven, patterned analysis of the text, establishing the monomythic model of Joseph Campbell as a context for evaluating the heroic dimensions of the questing knights Redcrosse, Guyon, Britomart, and Calidore.
Spenser wrote The Faerie Queene because he really cared about making people care. He imagined a poetic world that wasn't just about telling a story, getting some laughs, and moving right along, but that actively, even interactively, invited his readers to learn from and along with his characters.
A generous, well-annotated selection of the poetry, including The Faerie Queene, Books 1 and 3 and sections from other books; selections from The Shepheardes Calender; The Amoretti and Epithalamion; and the Prothalamion. There is a long selection of critical commentaries which give the reader a sense of the progress of work on Spenser, from the 18th century to the 1980s, as well as the changes in critical methods and fashion.
This Approaches volume, like others in the series, is divided into two parts. Part 1, “Materials,” surveys resources useful for classroom instruction (such as editions, anthologies, and student readings), reviews background studies and critical scholarship, and reprints eight illustrations related to the poem. Part 2, “Approaches,” presents six essays suggesting methods for introducing The Faerie Queene to students and nine essays describing advanced classroom strategies incorporating a variety of topics, including the visual arts, feminism, and colonialism.
“I have taught the Faerie Queene at all levels of instruction; speaking from experience, I can say that I would have found the present volume useful. It is encouraging to teachers of the poem. . . . Editors Miller and Dunlop have done a genuine service by bringing together in one volume essays that amply demonstrate that Spenser is in good hands in the college classroom. On the whole the essays here are well written, witty, clearly focused, and strongly argued, and reveal considerable variety in teaching techniques and course-specific approaches.”
There are many precedents for dragons in medieval literature, two of the most prominent being in the Old English poem Beowulf and in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.
I was educated at Shady Side Academy, Duke University, University of Pittsburgh, Princeton University, and by William F. Orr. I have a BA, an MA, and a Ph.D. I am a specialist in English Renaissance literature, I wrote a doctoral dissertation on Spensers use of the Bible in Books One and Two of The Faerie Queene. I taught English for four years at the Ellis School in Pittsburgh, then began full time writing in 1976. I have lived in interesting places and have traveled extensively. I am the author of the following books: Living Hope: a Study of the New Testament Theme of Birth from Above (with William F. Orr); Gravitys Revolt; A Travelers Education; Defunctive Music. I am currently gathering material for another book of travel essays, working on a translation of The Iliad and on The Lyndoniad, a long poem containing history.
The point isn't that you'll agree with every lesson Spenser offers: the point is that understanding these lessons can offer you a pretty unusual literary experience. It will push you to rethink what you think you know about character, setting, and even story, but in the process, it will still offer torture chambers, beautiful women, extended cross-dressing sequences, weird spells and violent battles. Think plus Sudoku, or plus .
So while The Faerie Queene completely delivers on the excitement, fun, and beauty we traditionally expect from Great Literature, it also has some of the appeal of a crossword puzzle or riddle that you just have to solve. Every character and every action is part of a massive and intricately designed network of allusion and symbolism, and as you read along, you can begin to piece together how they interact with one another and guess what Spenser might be trying to teach us through those interactions.
As the secular instrument of Gloriana, the Faerie Queene, Redcrosse takes on the sacred task of Una (representing religious truth) to free her parents, Adam and Eve, from their bonds of sin.