Comparative Analyiss Of The Faerie Queene And Paradise Lost

According to Oxford Dictionaries, an epic is a poem (or heroic poetry), typically derived from ancient oral tradition, which celebrates in the form of a continuous narrative the achievements of one or more heroic characters of history or legend. This type of narrative usually begins “in the middle of things”, written in a high style and divided into long narrative sequences. Two of the many influential English poets had certain parallels in nature, lives, and beliefs that can be discussed through their most important works. The Faerie Queene poem was composed by Edmund Spenser and the Paradise Lost epic was written by John Milton. These two English poets lived in periods of history that were politically difficulties, and both knew unhappiness in love. The two epic poems have similar causes of downfall and characters are examples of historical figures. Both authors provide similar epic conventions, inspired by their Protestant Christian religion during the Renaissance in the sixteenth century, and differing in the notion of how heroism is portrayed.

The English Renaissance was one of the most brilliant periods in Western literary history for the production of great poetry, like The Faerie Queene and Paradise Lost. The period’s ideals were inscribed in these two heroic narratives in a culture that embraced epic as a means of political and theological reflection. Edmund Spenser presents features of allegory throughout his epic using extended metaphors in which the characters and objects represent abstract ideas, heroes, villains, and supernatural forces. The main characters, six noble knights, each stand for a different moral virtue. There are some other characters represent real historical or mythological figures, for example, The Redcrosse Knight is both a symbol of holiness and a version of the third-century martyr Saint George. Arthur is bot a version of the mythological King Arthur, king of the Britons in the 5th or 6th century, and a symbol of magnificence. Another character is Gloriana, which represents both the real Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603) and what Spenser saw as the superiority of Protestant Christianity. Spenser was very influenced by his Protestant Christian background and considered Catholic influences on the Church of England as signs of evil corruption. The epic poem was written during a time of intense religious and political conflict in Europe because after Elizabeth I took the throne years after the reign being under Mary I, she was determined to convert England into a Protestant country. Consequently, a controversy began in Europe and she was called a rebellious queen. Another historical context in this epic was the invocation of the Muses, the goddesses who preside over the creative arts. Spenser includes the muse in his poem, similar to Greek and Latin epics. One the other hand, Milton was a Protestant Christian who defended the republicanism and was anti-monarchy. He supported Oliver Cromwell return to government in 1640 and by the end of 1648, the Parliamentarians voted to arrest and execute Charles I. In general, English society was anarchic with varied political, social, and religious factions struggling for power and new status. In Paradise Lost, Milton explores God’s creation of humankind, the temptation of Adam and Eve in Eden, and the concept of sin. This narrative presents several Protestant Christian positions, for example, the union of the Old and New Testaments, the unworthiness of mankind, and the importance of God’s love in someone’s salvation. Both authors introduce the invocation of the muse, a pagan and Christian.

The Faerie Queene is about different stories of knights, in which each one represents a particular virtue, on their quests for the Faerie Queene, Gloriana. Each quest is an allegory and each knight in the quest represents a person’s internal growth in that particular virtue. Redcrosse is the knight of Holiness, Guyon is the knight of Temperance, Britomart is a woman disguised as a male knight that represents Chastity, Artegal is the night of Justice, Cambell and Triamond are the knights of Friendship, and Calidore is the Knight of Courtesy. Paradise Lost is about Adam and Eve, the story of creation and how they came to lose their place in the Garden of Eden, Paradise. The epic poem reflects the story that can be found in the first pages of Genesis in the Bible. Milton expands this story and includes the origin of Satan, known as Lucifer, an angel in heaven who led his followers against God, ultimately falling into hell. Satan’s revenge led him to cause man’s downfall by turning himself into a serpent and tempting Even to break the most important rule God gave them, eat the forbidden fruit.

Spenser had planned writing twelve books of The Faerie Queene, but he only did six and a fragment of the seventh book. The unfinished work had led to questions about the particular significance of the ordering of the virtues in the first six books. These six books only give us an incomplete allegorical scheme and a glimpse of which only the complete twelve books would have revealed. However, this does not mean that the meaning of the books is missing. He successfully established the relationship of the books in three different methods, the symmetry of the parts, narrative sequence, and unity of the parts. Arthur was one pole and the court of Gloriana was the other, sealing the different adventures of the knights into a self-contained world. Book 6 prepares the readers for the reality that even a heroic knight cannot prevent all bad things from existing in the world. This tells the readers that we have to remove from our minds from the fantasy that when something bad happens, there will be a knight to save the day. In Paradise Lost, after Adam and Eve are thrown out from the Garden of Eden they must band together as their only way to survive since God is far away from them. Milton wants to represent the downfall of humankind as partially good because if Adam and Eve were to stay in Paradise, they would have never truly cared about each other, nor would they have followed God by free will and choice. They would not know what it is to value something if they were still living in Paradise and being immortal. After the fall, they understand the world outside Eden and can care about each other, love each other, and choose to worship God out of choice. It can be said that the world outside Eden is the true “Eden”.

Many characters in both Paradise Lost and The Faerie Queene can be accounted for by pride as a downfall. Pride is the root of all sin and that all other unrighteous acts follow shortly after the introduction of pride. In Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve pray to God for forgiveness because of their sin and they are redeemed and granted. Adam was shown that all was not lost by their exile from Paradise because they shall now possess Paradise within themselves and live trying to be good and happy. In The Faerie Queene, Arthur, who represents Christ, agrees to help Una by saving Red Cross Knight. Then, Red Cross Knight is allowed to return to his Christian faith (his armor) because of his redemption by Christ. It is demonstrated that both Spenser and Milton are influenced by their religious believed in their literary works. Therefore, they approach these narratives through their beliefs in love, political positions, and religious beliefs.

16 August 2021
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