The Faerie Queene is a romantic epic

Question: The Faerie Queene is a romantic epic- discuss.

Or, Discuss “The Faerie Queene” blended with romance and epic.


The Canto 1, Book 1, of “The Faerie Queene” by Edmund Spenser (1552/53-1599) is a small part. So, it cannot be considered either an epic or a romance. To call it a romantic epic, we must investigate the entire book. However, we can try to find out the epical and romantic qualities from Canto 1.

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Mingled invocation to the Muses

As we know that an epic is a long poem dealing with heroic actions and written in a lofty style. Invocation is an inevitable part of an epic and Canto 1 begins with that item. Spenser makes an appropriate invocation. First, he invokes the Muse who inspired him a short time ago to write a pastoral poem, now he undertakes the task of writing the stern deeds of war and to sing of the deeds of noble birth. Then he goes on to pray to Clio, the chief of the nine muses to assist him in carrying out the task assigned to him. He Says:

“O help thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull Tong.”

The poet does not forget to pay tribute to Venus, goddess of love, and her son Cupid as his poem also deals with love and chivalry. Lastly, he pays glowing tribute to Queen Elizabeth for her role in national life.

Overmuch heroism

The poem deals with the elements of heroic deeds of the Red Cross Knight who alone fights with a powerful giant, the monster of Error, and defeats that monster courageously. Thus, this canto contains the essential aspect of epic. But the conclusion is unheroic. The knight cannot come out of the netcast over them by the magician Archimago.

Romantic elements with an epic feature

“The Faerie Queene” can be best described as a romantic epic. Because along with epic features, the romantic elements are also discussed in it. In Canto 1, the romantic elements occur to a large degree. In the theme, there is Knightly love. Nature in all her grandeur is depicted perfectly. Through the forest, the journey of the Red Cross Knight and Lady Una to release her parents is the paradigm of scenic beauty. The trees, in the grove where the Knight and Una had to take shelter against the storm, were very tall and were covered with the thick leaves from which the light of the sun, moon, and stars could not penetrate. It was like a woven sheet of leaves to act as an umbrella to protect them from the rain.

War and love

War is the theme of epic and love is the theme of love poems. They were the main themes of romances of Spenser’s time. Spenser added religion to it. In this Canto, the poet treated the themes of love, war, and religion romantically. The purity of Una’s love charms the reader. The intrigues of Archimago in the guise of religion, though hated but undoubtedly romantic.

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To conclude, Canto 1, Book 1, is essentially rich in epic and romantic materials. For this reason, Canto 1, Book 1, can be said to be the best example of a romantic epic.

S Ridoy Kumar
S Ridoy Kumar
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