The Faerie Queene – (Short Ques & Ans)

Short Questions and Answers/Explanations

Q1.Write a note on the plot and the story of the poem ‘The Faerie Queene’,

Ans. The Faerie Queene has a complicated and obscure plot. The story of the poem can be summed up in a few words. The Faerie Queene, Gloriana according to custom. Kept her annual feast for twelve days If anyone asked her for some boon on these days, she was honour bound to grant it. It so happened that on the first day, a tall, clownish young man came to her court and prayed that he might have the achievement of any adventure that should happen that cay. His boon was granted and he sat modestly on the floor waiting for his chance. Soon after a lady in mourning dress appeared on the scene. She rode a white ass and a dwarf leading a warlike horse and bearing the arms of a knight, followed him. She kneeled before the queen, wept and complained that her parents who were the King and Queen of an ancient Kingdom. Had been captured and imprisoned in a castle by a huge dragon. She prayed to the Faerie Queene to send one of her knights with her to rescue her parents.

At this the clownish person stood up and desired the adventure and went to rescue her parents.

Q2. Discuss the structure of the Faerie Queene.

Ans. On each of the days of the feast some one or the other in difficulty came to the Faerie Queene, prayed to her for help and a brave knight was placed at the disposal of each of them. As the knights ride out to perform their missions. All sorts of adventures befall them and they have to face many dangers. Innumerable are the disgressions introduced in this way, thus weakening and loosening the structure of the epic. The plot thus becomes exceedingly leisurely and elaborate. It is crammed with incident and digression and by the fifth book it is papably weakening. While we must admire the epic variety and vastness made possible in this way, we must also be thankful that only half of Spenser’s masterpiece was completed.

Spenser planned an allegorical romance in twelve books, each book dealing with a year’s doing of a knight in the court of Fairy Queene, the knight himself being the personification of one of the twelve virtues, found in Aristotle and Christian thinkers. Pastoralism and Romance are closely associated or they were so in contemporary Europe, especially in Italy, the mother country of the Renaissance.

Q3. Discuss Prince Arthur as a unifying factor.

Ans. The difficulties of the various knights are removed and their lives saved, only by the intervention of Prince Arthur at critical moments. The legendary hero had seen in a vision or dream the Faerie Queene, had been ravished by her beauty and had determined to seek her out. During the course of his wanderings he comes across the various knights in danger of their lives, saves them to perform their mission.

Thus he appears in all the books not as the main personage but as an essential Figure. In this way it is through the personality of Prince Arthur that the separate adventures of the knights are united into a single whole and the work becomes a single epic instead of remaining separate books. At last Prince Arthur reaches Fairy land and gets the Faerie Queene. The twelfth book was intended to be a celebration of the marriages of the different knights with their ladies and also that of the Prince with the Faerie Queene but it could not be written.

 Q4. Discuss the hybrid of epic and allegory in The Faerie Queene of Spenser.

Ans. The be wilderness and confusion of the readers is further increased by the blend of the allegory and the epic. Allegory is a technique of vision and its purpose is to clarify abstract thought by conveying it through concrete symbols. But in the monumental work the allegory instead of imparting clarity, makes the plot more obscure and complicated. This is so because there is no one allegory but three, catch mingling and running into each other. His characters are created for more than one purpose. They are both moral and historical personages. The good characters of the play represent moral and religious virtues and the wicked characters the corresponding vices. They also stand for some well-known contemporaries.

His King Arthur stands for magnificence, for divine grace as well as for Leicester. Elizabeth’s favourite. Elizabeth who is grossly and shamelessly flattered in the poem, is sometimes Gloriana and sometimes Belphoebe or Britomart or Mercila. In the first book. The Red Cross Knight stands for Holiness. For the Christian soul in quest of truth as well as for the Reformed Church of England. Sometimes allegories become obscure even in detail and the reader is often bewildered and gets lost.

Q5. Discuss the pictorial quality of Spenser’s Faerie Queene.

Ans. The Faerie Queene is. In fact, a gallery of pictures and Spenser is a word painter. Neither as an allegorist nor as a writer of romance does he excel. But as a showman of Pageants he is incomparable. The Faerie Queene is essentially a picture gallery. The epic has attained immortality not owing to its moral nor to its allegory but owing to it wonderful word pictures scattered all through it. It is as the showman of Pageants that Spenser is incomparable.

Indeed originally the poet intended to call it Pageants or decorative pictures. The poem is full of wonderful word pictures of the beauties of nature or of the human body, specially woman’s body. The ambition to rival painting was born in English poetry though Spenser and Milton. Keats and Tennyson only imitated him. Thus we observe that Spenser’s pictures are often detailed, distinct and shining. They always ripple and sparkle with beauty and glitter. Spenser therefore is the poet of our walking dreams. His imagination has its full play in colourful images and provides a feast to the eye.

Q6. Discuss art element of Spenser in The Faerie Queene.

Ans. The Faerie Queene is a very rich in its art contents. In the use of alliteration. Vowel music and cadence. Spenser is almost peerless. His images too are rich. He has used the best measure for his poem. The long drawn out, sonorous music of the spenserian stanza, induces the necessary suspension of disbelief and the wonders described in the book are readily accepted. The poem is also remarkable for its blend of the Renaissance and the Reformation, epic and allegory, romance and masque etc. The triumph of the poem lives in unity of atmosphere. Everything in it is bathed in the same strange, fantastic moon light in which the contrast between the whites and shadows is heightened and wonders are accepted as a native to the peace.

As mentioned by Legouis, “It unrolls before our eyes innumerable dazzling visions. It is enough for Spenser’s name that he was one of the master musicians and perhaps the greatest of the picture makers of the world.” The poem is also remarkable for its harmonious music.

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Q7. Compare Chaucer and Spenser as poets.

Ans. Though Spenser regarded Chaucer as his master and their writings have almost nothing in common yet we appreciate to make a comparison between the two modern poets of England. Chaucer was a combined poet and man of affairs with the latter predominating Though dealing largely with ancient medieval. He has a curiously modem way of looking at life. W. T. Long says “Indeed Chaucer is our only author preceding Shakespeare with whom we feel at home. He threw aside the outgrown metrical romance, invented the art of story telling inverse and brought it to a degree of perfection. Though a student of classics he lived wholly in the present, studied the men and women of his own time. Painted them as they were. His mastery of various and melodious verse was marvellous.

Like Chaucer Spenser was a busy man of affairs but in him the poet and the scholar always predominated. He writes as an idealist. Describing men not as they are but as he thinks they should be. He has no humour and his mission is not to amuse but to reform. Like Chaucer he studies the classics but instead of adapting his material to present day conditions he makes poetry more artificial. Where Chaucer looks about him. Describes life as he sees it Spenser always looks backward for his inspiration and lives dreamily in the past, in a relam of imagination. Not observation and he is the first of our poets to create a world of dreams. Fancies and illusions. His second quality is a wonderful sensitiveness to beauty. Like Chaucer, we think chiefly of his natural characters of his ideas, while in reading Spenser we think of the beauty of expression. The exquisite Spenserian stanza and the rich melody of his verse have made Spenser the model of our modern poets.

Q8. Trace Spenser’s influence on the Romantic poets of the nineteenth century.

Ans. With the appearance of the Lyrical Ballads begins the full dawn of the romantic poetry and literature and we have to consider the influence of Spenser on the romantic poets. Coleridge and Wordsworth were considerably influenced by Spenser’s art. Coleridge had read Spenser with great interest and was a staunch admirer of him. Keats confessed that with a copy of Spenser’s Faerie Queene. He would have never become a poet. Spenser’s four hymns influenced Coleridge upto a great extent and inspired him to write Religious Musings.

The Influence of Spenser on Wordsworth, though not very direct, can be seen in Wordsworth’s admiration of Spenser. In Shelley Revolt of Islam and Resolution and Independence. Spenser’s influence is very clearly noticed. It is on Keats that Spenser’s influence is the strongest. It was Spenser who gave Keats stimulation and inspiration to write poetry. When Keats read The Faerie Queene. He went through it as a young horse through a spring meadow rambling. Spenser’s influence is apparent in the J uveline poems of Keats, in Endymion, and in St. Agnes Eve. In romantic poets, it could perhaps be said by Byron alone that be was in no way influenced by Spenser.



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