Holiness as a Virtue

A discussion of the character of the Red Cross Knight in “The Faerie Queen,” an epic poem by Edmund Spenser.

The Faerie Queen, an epic poem by Edmund Spenser is a lengthy piece of work consisting of six parts that was completed in 1590. This paper discusses the allegorical theme of “holiness and virtue” in the poem and since this is represented by the Red Cross Knight it focuses on his character. It shows how the Red Cross Knight is out on a mission to save the world from sin and that “truth” and “holiness” themselves have to face temptations and attractive evils in order to show the “vulnerability” of humans to sins.
“The bloody (bloudie) cross that the knight wore on his breast is a direct reference to Jesus Christ from whom he derives his “Holiness.” However, the Red Cross Knight is not Jesus himself, since unlike the Lord himself he is not able to resist the temptation of the “Garden of Eden” and thus represents the fallibility of human beings. While under the evil spell of the woods, he is tricked by the magic of Archimago into believing the “Truth” (Una) as unvirtuous and falls for the deception and temptation provided by Duessa, the witch.”