Role of Women Character in Spencer’s The Faerie Queene

 Role of Women Character’s in Spencer’s The Faerie Queene

All the heroines portrayed by Spencer are of typical types. They all possess excellent qualities such as innocence, fortitude, compassion, truthfulness, generosity and the capacity to endure injustice, misfortune and suffering enough at the same time to show strong willpower to fight against evil and injustice. Such a heroine is Pastorella; such is the heroine, Belphoebe: such is Britomart; such is Amoret and such also is Una. Una, as portrayed in Book I of The Faerie Queene is a combination of such excellent qualities as truthfulness, constancy of purpose, a strong filial devotion, steadfast love for the man to whom she has given her heart, rare determination, unfaltering courage, a generous and compassionate heart, and an invincible sense of honour.

The care which afflicts Una is the result of the tyranny of a dragon on her parents, the king and the queen, and the people of the country to which she belongs and so she has come to seek help which is provided to her by Queen Gloriana. She is now riding in the company of the Red Grass Night who has promised to fight against the Dragon. Una, although a young maiden already feels a deep sense of responsibility. Her filial devotion appears in the fact that she has come so far to get help for the liberation of her parents from the tyranny of the Dragon.

 Although seemingly an inexperienced maiden, we would be mistaken to think so of Una because the manner in which she handles the situation arising from the confrontation between the Red Cross Knight and the monster, half-woman and half serpent, clearly shows her mature judgement and wisdom. When the Red Cross Knight decides to enter a cave in the wandering woods, Una cautions him against any possible danger which may be threatening. Now, this advice to the Red Cross Knight can only come from a person who has already become wise by experience. At a crucial moment in the fight between the monster and the Knight, she calls upon the latter to strangle the monster before the monster strangles him.

In spite of her maturity of judgement and wisdom, Una shows herself to be very sensitive to misfortune. When at the old man’s cottage, she finds that the Red Cross Knight has departed without informing her, she feels desolate. For the time being her original purpose, which was to rescue her parents from their predicament is forgotten; and now she sets out as speedily as possible to make a search for the knight. Soon afterwards she encounters a lion but to her utter dismay, the lion behaves towards her in a most submissive manner. So, here wild Savage beast surrendering to the maidenly virtue of Una now becomes her companion and protector. At the cottage of the blind woman, Corceca, this lion kills Kirkrapine who is a plunderer of churches. 

But, Una is by no means so wise as to be able to see through every kind of deceit and deception. Therefore when Archimago meets her in the disguise of the Red Cross Knight, she expresses great delight at having found him at last. But after a fight with the heathen, San’s loy, she finds out that this knight is not the Red Cross Knight but Archimago, the magician, and she feels dumbfounded. Then her lion is killed by the heathen, whereupon she finds herself absolutely helpless. Sans loy would now proceed to violate her virginity, and she feels horrified at this possibility.

However, help comes to Una from an unexpected quarter. Hearing her cries of distress, a multitude of satyrs and fauns, the dweller of the forest, come to her rescue and the heathen flees in fear. She feels most grateful to them but now she finds it difficult to get away from them because they won’t let her go and these savage creatures, instead of doing any harm to her, bow to her, shows great respect and begin to worship her as if she were a goddess. She stays with them for a time and during this period, she holds classes, lecturing to them and imparts moral instructions. She repays them by becoming their moral teacher and giving them instruction in the truth of which she is herself the embodiment. From their company, she is able to escape with the help of a hero, Sir Satyrane. But having escaped from their midst, she has once again to flee in terror when she sees the heathen, & Sans loy, who is now fighting a battle with Sir Satyrane. Once again her condition becomes pitiable and we perceive that a lonely damsel is always in distress.

Soon afterwards, Una’s grief is enhanced when she first gets the wrong information from a traveller that the Red Cross Knight has been killed. Then when the dwarf gives the authentic news about the Red Cross Knight having been seriously wounded and been imprisoned by the giant, Orgoglio, in his dungeons, Una’s grief is indescribable. However, her love for the Red Cross Knight does not waver in the least and again makes her mind to search for him whether he be alive or dead-And guided by the dwarf she sets out on a journey towards Orgoglio’s castle fortunately she encounters a Knight who on knowing of her misfortunes, assures his help. The warrior whom she meets is Prince Anthur, a redoubtable Prince skilled in the art of war and well-armed.

When Prince Arthur succeeds in his mission of securing the release of the Red Cross Knight, Una thanks him. She feels delighted and depressed at the same time to find that he has been reduced to a skeleton on account of this prolonged imprisonment. She now also points out to Prince Arthurs the treachery and the deceitfulness of Duessa, who now appears to be most ugly, hideous and filthy beneath her shining ornaments and garments. Here, Una shows her compassionate nature and her generosity by further suggesting that Duessa should be allowed to go wherever she chooses because the exposure of Duessor’s hateful reality is in itself enough punishment for the witch.

Uno also saves him from willing himself under the influence of Despair who has urged the knight to put an end to his life because the longer a man leaves, the more sins he commits and the greater the punishment he would earn. Una points out to the knight that, if there are sin and suffering in human life, there is also the grace of God to console and comfort. Here we find yet another example of Una’s wisdom. She here shows herself to be much more mature than the Red Cross Night, enlightening him with regard to the mercy which God shows towards sinners if the sinners repent of their sins.

Una finds that the knight is suffering from a spiritual malady and that he needs to be restored to spiritual health if he is to embark on the task of fighting the dragon who is ravaging her father’s country. Accordingly, she loves him to the House of Holiness where, through a prolonged treatment which includes penance, remorse and the mortification of the flesh. In taking the knight to the House of Holiness, Una shows her spirit of initiative and enterprise. There he is fully cured and it is only then that Una takes him to her father’s kingdom where, as she had anticipated, he fights with the Dragon and kills it. 

Una’s joy now knows no boundaries. Her father, feeling more jubilant than anybody else, offers her hand to the Red Cross Knight who too is feeling happy at this time. And then Una once again shows her spirit of enterprise and wisdom in stepping forward and exposing the true identity of the messenger, who has delivered a false message to her father.

In frustrating Duessa’s trick on this occasion. Una once again rises to the stature of a true heroine. Finally, she is betrothed to the Red Cross Knight though their marriage would have to wait for some more time. Thus, Holiness and Truth have at last been knit together in a relationship that is indissoluble.

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