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Spenser's heroines are paragons of beauty and virtue. Lady Una, the heroine of the first book of The Faerie Queene is no exception in this regard. She has been portrayed as both an individual and a type. She stands for Beauty, Truth, Goodness, wisdom and innocence, the qualities which Plato had taught his disciples to regard as identical. Una, as portrayed in Canto-I of Book-I, is a combination of such excellent qualities as truthfulness, constancy of purpose, a strong filial devotion, a steadfast love for the man to whom she has given her heart, strong determination, unfaltering courage, a generous and compassionate heart, and an invincible sense of honour.

character of Lady Una

Lady Una is introduced to us, in the very first Canto, as a lovely lady riding upon a humble ass. The ass is of white colour but the lady is even more beautiful white than the ass. However, her beauty is hidden under a veil which is gathered into folds and which falls considerably below her face. Over her head and her veil, she is wearing a black long robe. She looks like a person inwardly mourning some loss. She is in a sad mood and sits dejectedly upon her slow-moving ass. She is alsi leading a milk-white lamb by a string. The lady is as pure and innocent as that lamb which walks behind her. Then we know that she is a loving and dutiful daughter of a king.

Inexperienced, weak and innocent as she is, she does not hesitate to set out in search of her parents when they are imprisoned by the foul dragon. Now she is in heartfelt grief. In love of her parents, she completely forgets her own self. She suffers terribly, but in spite of all sorrows and sufferings, all dangers and difficulties, she persists in her search. As an embodiment of all the virtues she is an angle. But she is also a human being in her heart rending suffering and the bitter tears she sheds. Her persistence, her love and her patience are at last rewarded and she succeeds in securing the freedom of her parents, and in restoring them to their original status.

Lady Una's love for the Red Cross Knight is genuine and unalloyed. She always accompanies the Knight in his journey and gives useful advice and inspiration in time of need.

Her wisdom is seen in the guidance she gives to her champion, the Red Cross Knight during his fighting with the monster Error.

At the lady's words of encouragement the Knight, collecting all his strength, manages to free one of his hands. With this free hand he presses the monster's throat with so much force that she is compelled to relax her wicked coils within which she has so long been holding the Knight. Thus Una's timely inspiration is necessary for the Knight to fight against his adversary.

Lady Una's wisdom is proved on many occasions. In short, she is the apotheosis of woman kind. She is Spenser's ideal of a perfect woman. Duty, love, forgiveness, patience, innocence and wisdom are important qualities of her character. She has been wonderfully humanised, although in the allegory she stands for "Truth' or the true Religion of the Anglican Church.

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