Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

L. Monique Pittman

Abstract

Edmund Spenser's epic romance, The Faerie Queene (1590, 1596), claims to glorify Queen Elizabeth I, but the author hides an underlying critique of the queen throughout the poem. At the same time that Spenser openly praises the English monarch, he also reveals the faults and contradictions present in her image through how he presents the main characters in the story. In Faerie Queene, Spenser establishes a sexuality spectrum that features the lechery of Redcrosse Knight and the hypersensitive purity of Britomart; this demonstrates the various extremes of immoral sexuality. Studying both these characters reveals that the success of each knight's mission relies heavily on his or her ability to navigate issues of temptation and purity. Through his presentation of Britomart's inadequacies, Spenser censures Elizabeth's choice to remain a virgin with no heirs.

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