skip to main | skip to sidebar
Home » , » Trace medieval elements in The Faerie Queene Book I ?

The Faerie Queene as well as The Shepherds Calender bear traces of Spenser's reverence for the social and religious institutions of the Medieval Age. He was in sympathy with the old order of chivalry that was passing away. Sir Philip Sidney and Sir Walter Raleigh were to him the last relics of the old order of Knight errantry that had seen its days of glory in the knights of the bygone days. In those days each Knight took it as his sacred duty to defend the weak, especially the weaker sex, from the outrage of the strong, to help the miserable, and restore virtue and goodness to their rightful place of honor.

The seeking of honor through perilous adventures and through fights against the mighty tyrants that oppressed the weak and the virtuous, the glorification of woman and the offering of protection to her, the compassionate regard for the poor and the suffering- these were the ideals of knighthood as it was practiced in the ages long before the times of Spenser.

Some good knights cherished ideals and were ever ready to rise their lives to justify their professions. The Knight of the Red Cross as we find in The Faerie Queene, Book I belongs to this noble class. As we read The Faerie Queene we picture ourselves the whole procession of brave adventurous knights speeding across the vast desert, through forests, and up the hills. We seem to hear the lash of arms and see, sometimes, virtue prevails against vice, and sometimes, virtue falls a victim to the superior power of villainy to be redeemed by a still stronger virtue. We picture also the spectacle of virtuous ladies falling into the hands of the wicked to be redeemed in the end by the defenders after much trial and tribulation.

The Middle Ages had long gone away, but something of their spirit still survived in the institution of chivalry. The Middle Ages took delight in the spectacle of pageants and ceremonies and tournaments. Spenser gave them a new splendor in his pages. He sought to remove the old institution of chivalry by investing it with a new honor and glory.

Courtesy and refinement of manners were the two essential qualities of the man of rank and culture in the Middle Ages. In Spenser's own time, the royal court of Queen Elizabeth patronized arts and culture. These were found in the knights and noblemen that gathered around the patronizing lords and ladies. Some glimpses of the court of Queen Elizabeth I may be traced in Spenser's epic The Faerie Queen.

There were many common themes in the literature of the Middle Ages. The forlorn damsel in distress, the multi-headed monster terrorizing the world and ravaging a whole country, the terrible giant taking delight in killing men, the subtle enchanter practicing his magical arts on the innocent and the unwary, the cruel enchantress making the wisest and the bravest of men victims of her affected charms, and the lustful Knight in pursuit of the gentle lady- such are the characters that participate in the action of the romances of the Medieval Age. In Spenser's grand epic, all these characters are presented.

To sum up, The Faerie Queene has traces of romance and chivalry of the Medieval world. The ideals of medievalism are held dear by Spenser and he appreciates the time-honored institution of chivalry, with emphasis on the glorification of women and compassion for the poor.


Post a Comment

Back To Top