The Faerie Queene: Redcrosse Knight and the House of Pride
The Faerie Queene is a story about the Knight of holiness named Redcrosse. Redcrosse is on a journey as he accompanies a woman by the name of Una. Along their way, they encounter a sorcerer named Archimago whom casts a spell to make Redcrosse angry with Una and leave her. He then encounters Archimago’s other plan otherwise known as a woman named Duessa
Along their journey, Redcrosse loses Una to a battle and continues on his journey with Duessa. They run into an area where Redcrosse breaks a branch on one of the trees depicting it to have previously been a person. The Tree begins to tell Redcrosse his story as he states, “But once a man Fradubio, now a tree,/ Wretched man, wretched tree; whose nature weake,/ A cruell witch her cursed will to wreake,/ Hath thus transformd, and plast in open plaines,/ Where Boreas doth blow full bitter bleake,/ And scorching Sunne does dry my secret vaines:/For though a tree I seeme, yet cold and heat me paines” (Spencer). The tree warns Redcrosse of his story about how he won a beautiful woman in a duel just as Redcrosse did. That woman turned out to be Duessa who then turned him in to a tree. This illustrates Redcrosse’s first incident of stupidy. Obviously he is too naïve and big in the head to wake up and realize that the tree’s story is identical to his. One would think that he would remain cautcous with Duessa, but she still holds the temptation in his journey.
Duessa then leads Redcrosse to the House of Pride. The House of Pride is described as a beautiful and large palace. Redcrosse and Duessa are then greeted by the Queen Lucifera as she introduces her subjects that pull her couch; coincidentally all possess names of the seven deadly sins: Idleness, Gluttony, Lechery, Avarice, Envy, and Wrath. Pride is the last and final of these deadly sins, the queen full of pride herself making that complete. Sansjoy then arrives and challenges Redcrosse to a duel. Redcrosse proves to be the better of the two as he wins the duel. Redcrosse then returns to the House of Pride where he finds out that in the dungeons of the palace are thousands of bodies who were overcome with pride and could not leave the palace. He and the dwarf then decide to escape the House of Pride. This depicts the second episode of Redcrosse’s stupidity. He sees what is going on in the House of Pride, but he does not want to leave. It does not dawn on him that they could end up in the dungeon. The Dwarf has to practically hit him on the head and tell him they need to leave the palace instantly for the sake of their lives.
The House of Pride depicts the Christianity allegory of sin and evil and is characterizes the palace by the seven deadly sins. Of all the seven deadly sins, Christianity views pride the evilest of all of them and the greatest sin to possess as arrogant pride was what caused Satan to descend to Hell. Satan was arrogant and thought he was better than the creator, just as Lucifera finds herself better than others as she crowned herself to rule. Satan then can be compared to the queen because of her name Lucifera which is an allegory for Satan’s name Lucifer. It can be interpreted that Lucifera depicts the arrogant pride that Satan possessed as the dungeons symbolize the hell in the palace that no one is allowed to leave once they depict the sin of pride. Since pride was depicted as the worst of all sins because it Satan possessed it, the deep dark dungeons can symbolize Hell because those that lie in their unable to leave the House of Pride are subjects that exhibit arrogant pride in themselves.
The Queen Lucifera can also be a political allegory for Queen Elizabeth. The representation of Queen Lucifera is depicted as an anti-representation of Queen Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth was a joyful and Christian queen who ruled with justice, while Queen Lucifera represents devilish characteristics who rules unlawfully. Queen Lucifera made herself the queen while Queen Elizabeth ruled the thrown rightfully.
Why has Redcrosse been taken to the House of Pride? Was Redcrosse’s pride becoming the best of him? Redcrosse is a very idiot, naive knight whom fights on instinct as he wanted to be a worthy knight. The dwarf even has to tell Redcrosse to leave the House of Pride once they see what is held in the dungeons. This illustrates that Redcrosse is stupid as the House of Pride does not serve its purpose in being a sort of warning or wakeup call for him.
Redcrosse then encounters a giant in a spot that would not typically be an area that one would encounter a giant. The area is beautiful, serene, peaceful and looks like a safe place to relax. Spencer described the siatutiaon as “He feedes vpon the cooling shade, and bayes/ His sweatie forehead in the breathing wind,/ Which through the tre[m]bling leaues full gently playes/ Wherein the cherefull birds of sundry kind/ Do chaunt sweet musick, to delight his mind:/ The Witch approching gan him fairely greet,/ And with reproch of carelesnesse vnkind/ Vpbrayd, for leauing her in place vnmeet,/With fowle words tempring faire, soure gall with hony sweet” (Spencer). The problem is that Redcrosse is engaged in Duessa and is full of Pride, full of himself, has a big head, and is careless. This is the perfect time for a giant to come and attach Redcrosse. Redcrosse’s pride is making him a careless knight, and because of this the Giant throws Redcrosse into the dungeon. Redcrosse is weak and vulnerable as Duessa calls him her prey. Redcrosse is “ Both carelesse of his health, and of his famec” and unfortunately when he sees the night it is noted: “But ere he could his armour on him dight” (Spencer). Basically, Redcrosse is even more careless in this moment because he takes off his armor. What kind of knight takes of his armor and is not prepared at all times for a fight. I mean he has just left the House of Pride where he has seen what evils were beheld in that place and now he is leaving himself without armor. This not only illustrates Redcrosse’s stupidity, but it also shows how temptation and pride can result in negative results. Redcrosse is fascinated with Duessa right now and is on top of the world so he probably thinks to himself why he would need armor at a time and in a place like this.
Redcrosse is too consumed with pride he does not understand the significance of the evens in his life. He finds that he is fighting these fights and handling all of the situations the way he is because he is a knight and that is was expectations of a knight. He does not understand that as a knight, you are going to be tested and you are going to face lessons placed in front of you. Redcrosse’s stupidity keeps him from realizing the importance of the duels because Pride is not only affecting his decision making, but his common sense.
“The Faerie Queene: Book I.” Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature.