Britomartis' Heroic Love in Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Book 3

Britomartis’ Heroic Love in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Book 3

Kim, Hoyoung

Medieval English Studies, vol. 9 (2001) No. 1


Each book of The Faerie Queene is not a completely new departure from the preceding books but is built upon its predecessors as its subject is carefully anticipated earlier. Sexuality, the main theme of Book 3, plays a very important role in the quests of Redcrosse and Guyon, the titular heroes of Book 1 and Book 2 respectively. The two books or legends, however, are chiefly concerned with its sinful perversions though Redcrosse’s betrothal to Una, for example, strongly suggests Spenser’s positive view of sexuality and marriage. Moreover, Guyon’s destruction of the Bower of Bliss, a false paradise of sexual enslavement, marks the poet’s necessary step before he undertakes a positive appraisal of the potentials of sexuality in Book 3, which naturally forms the basis of various kinds of intimate personal relationship called friendship in Book 4. Books 5 and 6 dealing with the social virtues of justice and courtesy are mainly concerned with the order and harmony of the community; but the poet is fully aware that the community is not an impersonal entity but an intricate network of personal relationships based on various modes of love.

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