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Home » , » Write a note on the character of archimago in spenser's The Faerie Queene Book I

Aechimago is one of the most dynamic characters in Book-I of The Faerie Queene. Outwardly he appears to be a holy person but inwardly he is extremely evil. He is a magician, constantly on the move, doing something or the other in the service of the devil. He is a master in the art of disguise and dissembling. He appears before the Red Cross Knight and Lady Una as a very old man with bare feet, white and grey beard, wearing a long black garment, and a book hanging from his belt. His eyes are bent downwards, as if gazing at the ground below, and as he walks on the way, he seems to pray and often beats his breast like a man who repents for his sins. Allegorically, Archimago personifies hypocrisy, but, in fact, he represents a far greater wickedness than we generally associate with hypocrisy. His mission is to work out sinister design and intrigues against Lady Una and the Red Cross Knight so that they may be separated from each other.

Character of archimago

Shortly after finding their way out of the woods, the Red Cross Knight and Lady Una meet an old man, named Archimago, who appears to be a reverend hermit. He courteously offers them night's lodging, but after they have gone to sleep he starts to work some magic spells. Conjuring up two evil spirits, he sends one to the kingdom of Morpheus to borrow a false dream. Archimago, meanwhile, has transformed the second sprite into the image of Una. In a false dream the imitation lady is brought to the bedside of the Knight declaring her passion for him in seductive tone. Though he stirred by her charms and her tender words, he virtuously rebuffs her advances and returns to his rest. Having failed in his first device, Archimago tries one more trick.

Archimago, the seeming pious hermit who offers a hospitable shelter to the Red Cross Knight and Una stands for Hypocrisy. The Knight blunders in considering himself to be acting on high moral principles in his submission to the machinations of a vicious slanderer. His weakness is a sign of inexperience, a failure to distinguish between appearance and reality. Thus 'Holiness' when separated from Truth is bound to meet with evil forces.

Historically, the submission of the Red Cross Knight to the intrigues of Archimago signifies the fall of Man in the Garden of Eden due to Satan's temptation. Archimago stands for Philip II of Spain and also the Roman Catholic Pope who were against the Anglican Church.

To sum up, allegorically Archimago personifies hypocrisy, but in fact, he represents a far greater wickedness than we generally associate with hypocrisy. His mission is to work out evil design and intrigues against Lady Una and the Red Cross Knight so that they may be separated from each other. He also represents one of the exponents of the Roman Catholic faith, out the damage and undermine the forces of Reformation as represented by the Red Cross Knight, Prince Arthur and Lady Una.

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