ENG202Y: BRITISH LITERATURE FROM MEDIEVAL TO ROMANTIC
TUES. OCT. 29/13
Next week we start Shakespeare’s The Tempest (including perhaps some film clips). I sent an
email via Blackboard noting a change to next week’s syllabus: I’ve cut the Bacon essay. Just
focus on the play, but feel free to write about Bacon if you want.
The next set of discussion questions is due Sunday, so continue looking at these in advance.
There is no class on Nov. 12 because of the fall break. Office hours will also be cancelled but I
will provide alternate times, since it is the week before essays are due. Details will be posted
on Blackboard, but it will be 5:30 to 7:00, same location. I will also provide my office phone
number in case you are locked out of the Jackman Building. Please email me if you want to
come. Regular office hours will resume Nov. 19, and I will also provide extra office hours on
Nov. 18, 5:30-7:00 in the same place.
Feel free to email me with essay questions, e.g. thesis statements; I will respond as quickly as
possible. You don’t have to use turnitin – submit your essays to me in class. And make sure
you have approval from me for your topic.
I recommend that you start the Paradise Lost reading in advance of Nov. 19, when we will also
discuss the test.
THE FAERIE QUEENE: CANTO 3
(We will pick up where we left off last week. Some of the layers of meaning should be making
sense as you move along, making it easier to interpret the various episodes. We discussed
the mix of genres in The Faerie Queene, e.g. epic, romance, and the particular kind of stanza
used in this poem – the Spenserian stanza.)
Canto 3 focuses on Una and her separation from the Redcrosse Knight. She encounters a
lion, which obviously makes us think of courage. The lion protects Una, and they encounter
each other without Archimago’s being around. Una tames the lion, then they meet Archimago,
who is disguised as the Redcrosse Knight.
Sans Loy comes along to avenge his brother until he realizes it is actually Archimago. He
forces Una to come with him, killing the lion. It is significant that the lion is unsuccessful in
battle: a lion is uncivilized and wild, and Una’s ability to tame him shows her power. And lions
lack what always seems to make the difference for the Redcrosse Knight: faith is an
advantage in battle that the lion lacks, e.g. in the fight with error Una tells him to have faith.
In other words, there are parallels between the lion and the Knight, both of whom are creatures
of appetite, often to their detriment. In fact, there are men who are even more beastly than
Lions are also traditionally association with royalty. The birth or death of a lion was often
seen as prophetically related to kings and queens, e.g. the lion as “king of the forest”, with a
strong connection to how royal families portrayed their lineage. We need to relate holiness
with allegiance to royalty, e.g. the Faerie Queene as the embodiment of Elizabeth I.
ENG202Y, OCT. 29 Page 1 of 6 Una seeks shelter in a house which displays a layer of detrimental Catholic qualities. The
blindness motif continues, e.g. Corsica, and the text makes the point that blindness begets
various sins and isn't just physical but spiritual. (This connection is made even more
significant in Paradise Lost.)
Canto 4 switches back to the Redcrosse Knight, where we meet Lucifera, who represents the
sin of pride. Sans Joy arrives and wants to fight the Knight until Duessa warns him of the
Knight’s charmed armour.
The description of the House of Pride is very important. We mentioned that houses in The
Faerie Queene are very significant. Just as taking the beaten path generally leads to sin,
the landscape also sends allegorical signals continually throughout the book.
The elaborate description (stanzas 2-6) of the House of Pride includes some significant
►built on a sandy hill
►built without mortar with high but weak walls
►its foundation is weak
►covered by a thin layer of gold foil
►lots of windows
►clock at top
►lots of people are there and everyone can enter
►entered via a beaten path
The superficial nature of this house is obvious. It is something that looks good but lacks
depth, and isn't a solid edifice. (Later we will learn that while entry is easy, leaving is difficult,
e.g. it has a dungeon.) It is connected to another figure of duplicity, Duessa, who also shifts
and lacks stability. As well, the porter’s name is Malvenu (“bad welcome”; later we will see a
contrasting porter in another house). Pride, too, is usually seen as transient, which might be
signalled by the clock.
In terms of the religious allegory, Protestants tended to object to the ornamentation of the
Catholic Church, which was interpreted as being nothing more than idolatry. Any similar
excessive decoration was often condemned. We saw that Spenser’s letter to Raleigh
established his poem as a panegyric to Elizabeth, “Gloriana”, but she is shadowed in various
And it isn't all praise. A good example of this shadowing is seen in Lucifera, Queen of the
House of Pride, if not Pride herself, as we see in stanzas 8-9 and stanza 16. Contrast this with
the language of Spenser’s proem. Brightness emanates from both figures, e.g. the references
to Phoebus. Similar allusions are used in both parts of the poem, e.g. Lucifera is a maiden
queen as was Elizabeth, who was sometimes called “the virgin queen” (she never married or
ENG202Y, OCT. 29 Page 2 of 6 We also see the word “glorious” repeated in reference to both Elizabeth and Lucifera. All of
this contributes to a critique of the current monarch, e.g. her court and pride. So it isn't just
a celebration of her virtues, besides contributing to the social/political allegory of Spenser’s
Then we get a parade of 6 deadly sins as her counsellors, e.g. wrath, gluttony. The Knight
has the good sense not to accompany them on a picnic, especially after discovering the
dungeon. He manages to escape, although he has yet to discover Duessa’s duplicity.
(A summary of Cantos 5 and 6 is given in your anthology.)
So far the narrative has been split between Una and the Redcrosse Knight, but they are close
to re-uniting in the same canto.
Canto 7 starts with the Redcrosse Knight and dwarf having just left the House of Pride
following their discovery of the dungeon. Duessa catches up with them, although the Knight is
still unaware of Duessa’s true nature.
We are also reminded of the Knight’s status as an “everyman” figure. What man is there who
is both wise and wary enough to see through Duessa’s type of cunning? The Redcrosse
Knight represents the human condition.
Duessa catches up with the Knight and berates him for deserting her, similar to his desertion of
Una. They make up in a bower or shade – an amorous encounter (related to one of the
This scene in the “joyous shade” yet “gloomy glade” is significant. The text has trained us to
consider the significance of light vs. dark, e.g. truth vs. evil, although brightness can also be
negative, as in the glittering House of Pride. The gloomy glade is a deception – a classic
environment in the courtly love traditional, where knights pursue and seduce damsels. It is a
clear sexual scene: the Knight has succumbed to the general weakness of chivalric figures,
in which their reputation as “ladies’ men” contrasts with their supposed reputation for virtue.
The stream and fountain he drinks from makes the Knight faint and feeble, as a result of a
conflict between the nymph of Diana, the goddess of chastity. We encountered Diana
before in Chaucer’s “The Knight’s Tale” – again, think of the maiden Queen Elizabeth. The
nymph is out of Diana’s favour, making this an unchaste place.
The Knight undresses, laying his shield and armour aside for the moment. When the Giant
surprises him, he isn't able to re-arm, so the Giant imprisons him. Duessa sides with the
victor, as is her nature. The dwarf