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Edmond Spenser: The Fairie
epic, epic simile, invocation of the muse, allegory, archaism, neologism
According to the quotation from Spenser in the Norton introduction to The
Fairie Queene, what is the poem's general end or purpose? What
does the name Sansfoy mean according to the introduction?
On the level of historical allegory, what two characters
represent Queen Elizabeth in the poem, according to Spenser's
letters to Raleigh?
Sir Raleigh's wife Bess, when she read The Fairie Queene,
identified several characters as being whom?
How does Spenser's career mirror or echo that of Virgil?
What two famous Italian romantic epics does Spenser borrow
from to create The Fairie Queene?
List the rhyme scheme of a "Spenserian stanza." What
meter appears in the first part of such a stanza? What
meter appears in the last line?
In "A Letter of the Authors" that precedes the
poem, what mythic king's history does Spenser choose for
According to Spenser's "A Letter," who do the
following characters all represent: Belphoebe, Phoebe,
Cynthia, and Diana?
Identify the Following Characters Red-Cross
Knight, Una, Duessa, Errour, Archimago, Sansfoy,
Sansloy, King Arthur, Kirkrapine, Orgolio (know what
Orgolio means in Italian, and what Kirkrapine means
in archaic English), Ignaro the Gatekeeper
- In Book I, after Spenser invokes the Muse, what other
spirits does he summon to help him in his task?
- What decoration
appears on the "Gentle Knight's" shield
and on his breast? What color is this decoration? [Lecture:
With what historical events is this particular emblem
associated in the 12th century and later.]
- What animal
does the "lovely Ladie" ride? How
does this connect to biblical iconography? What second
little animal does she lead behind her mount? What might
this symbolize in an allegory?
- Who or what carries the
lady's "needments" (her
- Why does the trio get off the road and huddle
under the trees?
- What creature or monster lives in the
cave or den the Redcross knight finds when he gets lost
in the forest?
- What does the top half of Errour look like?
What does her bottom half look like? What does she have
end of her twisty tail?
- How many offspring or children
does Errour have with her in the cave, sucking on her
- What allegorical explanation can you offer for Errour's
- When the Redcross Knight tries to strangle
Errour, she vomits up several items. In addition to poison,
of flesh, and gobbits of meat, frogs, and toads, what
other unusual substance does she vomit up?
- All the little
baby errors, when they see that Errour is dying, try
to re-enter at "their wonted entrance." What
orifice is this? When they can't re-enter her body, what
do they do?
- When the Knight encounters the old hermit
near dusk, what advice does the old hermit give him before
out to seek he "straunge man" who "wasteth
all this countrey farre and neare"?
- What does the
pious hermit do once his guests have gone to bed?
errand does Archimago send the sprites on that requires
them to go to the underworld?
- Who or what does one of
the sprites disguise itself as?
- Why does the Red-Cross
Knight abandon Una? (What does he think Una has done?)
- Canto #2 and later:
- Why does Una cry when she
awakens in the morning?
- In Canto 2.8-9, what does Archimago
take great delight in?
- After the Red-Cross Knight abandons
Una, what saracen knight does he encounter?
- Canto #3
- What does the lion do when it encounters Una?
- How does Archimago die?
- Canto #8
- What heroic figure shows up to rescue the Redcross
- What beast does Duessa ride in stanza 6?
- What does King Arthur do to the giant when the giant
swings and misses with his huge club?
- What is the name of the giant who fights King Arthur?
Who is this giant's lover? What does this giant's name
mean in Italian? How is that allegorical?
- When King Arthur chops off the giant's head, what happens
to the body?
- What figure guards the castle as an ironic, senile
inversion of Saint Peter? Characterize this old man.
- What is Duessa's true appearance? Describe what animal
parts she has and why they are symbolically appropriate?
: Explain who the author is, what the
work is, and what the significance is for each passage below:
A: Be able to identify
any passage from Book I, Canto 1 or Book 1, Canto 8.