skip to main | skip to sidebar
Home » , » "Spenser is at once a child of the Renaissance and the Reformation". Discuss?

The Renaissance, or the Revival of learning, during the Elizabethan age was characterised by certain features broadly represented in the works of Spenser. Spenser is called the child of the Renaissance and the Reformation, because in his works we have the finest expression of the ideals and principles of the classical Renaissance and the Reformation.

The Renaissance marked the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern world. The new age was characterised by the spirit of adventure, love for beauty, moral earnestness, a love for richness and magnificence, liking for material luxuries, power and pelf and, above all, by a desire to revive the ideals and practices of classical poets and philosophers of Greece and Rome.

Greek philosophical thought had deeply influenced the Renaissance thought, and Spenser, as the Child of the Renaissance, is influenced by the Greek philosophic thought, which he embodies in The Faerie Queene. Spenser draws from Aristotle the plan of The Faerie Queene. The idea of The Faerie Queene, to fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline, is derived from Aristotle.

During the period of the Renaissance, there was an air of seriousness, moral earnestness and moral teaching. Virtue was idealised. Spenser is quite in tune and harmony with this classical insistence of the Renaissance for moral elevation and teaching. In The Faerie Queene he tries to present through Arthur the figure of a perfect virtuous man. The Faerie Queene seeks to be an epic, not of fictitious adventure, but of morality and virtue. Spenser's poem may be ranked with those of Homer and Virgil, Ariosto and Tasso, because of its moral purpose and loftiness.

The fashion of the Renaissance scholars was to write in the form of allegory, and Spenser also makes good use of the genre.

The Reformation was a religious movement based on the opposition of the people to the claims of Papal authority and the Church of Rome. The Reformation was a Protestant rising against Roman Catholicism. Spenser, like his other contemporaries, is affected by the movement of the Reformation, and in spirit of his enthusiasm for the Renaissance ideals of beauty, luxury and art, he does not show any disrespect against Roman Catholicism. In spirit of his study of Plato, Aristotle, and Ariosto, Spenser keeps his adoration of the Bible on a higher level, and his life presents him as true Christian.

The first book of The Faerie Queene is, in fact, an epitome of the history of Reformation. It vividly presents the struggle between the forces of Protestantism headed by Queen Elizabeth, represented in the book as Una, and the forces of Roman Catholicism headed by Mary, Queen of Scots, represented in the book as Duessa. Una is shown as the fountain head of all the virtues to be found in a devout Protestant and Duessa stands for the vices tainting Roman Catholicism. Una is the embodiment of truth and true Church, humility and innocence, whereas Duessa stands for pride, luxury and all other evils found in Roman Catholicism.

The Faerie Queene represents the Reformation at its peak. Though Davis says that Spenser's Christianity is overlaid with the paganism of the Renaissance, yet it is Christianity which has not been driven away by paganism. The heart of Spenser is solidly rooted in Christianity and he reveals himself as a devoted Christian in The Faerie Queene.


Post a Comment

Back To Top