The Faerie Queene Canto 9 Reflection

By reading the poem as a Christian allegory, we see Despair as another character that has religious symbolism. Despair is what happens when you lose hope in saving your soul, or the loss of God. Red Cross almost joins the other knights that have taken their own life, but is saved by Una, who symbolizes faith in the true church. “Come, come away, fraile, seely, fleshly wight, Ne let vain words bewitch thy manly heart, Ne dieuilish words bewitch thy manly heart.” Red Cross is only saved by faith in the face of despair, he does not overcome it himself. It’s interesting that she mentions his “manly heart”, it’s kind of a glimpse into the social norms of the time of how a man, especially a knight was expected to conduct himself. He is supposed to be manly, if you display vulnerability then it’s viewed as weakness. I read Mike Gill’s response, and he goes deeper into this point. He talks about how knights aren’t really in a position to process their grief, and how we can view what the knights who faced despair before and how Despair could represent their PTSD. “If we think that the way we carry out war as being horrific and causing men to develop PTSD I can only imagine that many of these knights saw thousands of people die in the most gruesome of ways.” This poem is filled with allegory, and I think this is a really interesting conventional allegory that fits really well with the poem. Knights going to face Despair when the way seen at the time to deal with these feelings was to find faith. Mike also talks about how even the dragon could symbolize inner demons that someone like a knight, a soldier, has to face. And again, Red Cross is saved by faith and the powers of religion in this fight.

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