Character Development in Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene

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Focuses on how a series of major characters in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene; enhances a reader’s appreciation of the epic’s complex topical allegory and its moral implications. These specific techniques of character development include composition, fragmentation, and metamorphosis.


“In this work, Dr. Nadya Chishty-Mujahid elegantly reveals Edmund Spenser’s graceful ability to fuse topical and historical allegory to create characters that were both timely and timeless. She focuses on Spenser’s literary techniques of character development, and their impact on The Faerie Queene’s topical and historical import. She also demonstrates how Spenser creates complex foils for his main heroes and heroines, such as the beautiful Amazonian Radigund who challenges the flawed hero Artegall, thereby implicitly criticizing Elizabethan foreign policy (through veiled historical allegory) and also indicating the limitations of heroic identity in his epic ... Through Dr. Chishty-Mujahid’s work one can arrive at a clearer and more thorough understanding of what patriotism and heroism meant to Spenser, the attitudes he adopted towards his sovereign and religion, and the narrative techniques he employed to articulate the allegorical and topical complexity of his characters. It should provide delightful insights to a wide and multidisciplinary range of readers interested in the Elizabethan World.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Dan Burton, University of North Alabama

“ ... this topic is appropriate, in this moment in contemporary Spenser criticism, to move beyond mere assertions of the topical relevance of sections in Spenser’s poem, and to explore the broader contexts of these moments, both in the organization of characters and their role in the allegory ...” – Professor David Galbraith, University of Toronto

“ ... I find the interdisciplinary, multidimensional reading of Spenser’s epic poem intriguing. The main argument, which contends that Queen Elizabeth’s complex personality is reflected in the symbolism and characterizations of The Faerie Queene, offers a unique historical and literary reading. I found the quality of the writing to be excellent and the use of primary and secondary sources to be sound.” – Professor Evan R. Ward, University of North Alabama

Chishty-Mujahid presents valid, if at times rather obvious, readings of Spenser's work and its contexts but there are also some interesting insights--for example Spenser's rehabilitation of the figure of the Faery Queene who was formerly 'considered an unstable and devious fay trickster' (p.81)--and the study is critically informed." -from A Year's Work in English Studies

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dan Burton
1. Refracted Regality: Spenser’s Allegory of Justice and the Fragmentation of Monarchical Identity
2. In Search of Gloriana’s Camelot: Spenser’s Prince Arthur and the Creation of Composite Heroic Identity
3. From Virgin to Victrix: Britomart and the Metamorphosis of Heroic Identity
4. Spenserian and Scottish Harlots: Religious Tensions, English Nationhood, and the Political Metamorphosis of Ecclesiastical Identity
5. Thwarted Ambitions and Political Constraints: Artegall and the “Failure” of Heroic Identity

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