A. C. HAMILTON


The Structure of Allegory in
Books I and II of
"The Faerie Queene"

The highest end of the mistres Knowledge, by the Greekes called
Architectonike ... stands, (as I thinke) in the knowledge of a
mans selfe, in the Ethicke and politick consideration
, with the end
of well dooing and not of well knowing onely . . . so that, the ending
end of all earthly learning [is] vertuous action
.

SIDNEY

Previously I have treated the 'Idea or fore-conceite' of The Faerie Queene, and the method by which Spenser realizes that Idea as an image in Book I. I wish to consider now his intention which is realized in the end or working of his poem. As the Idea is embodied in an image, the intention is realized in an argument. Though Spenser rightly distinguishes in the letter to Raleigh between his purpose and the poem's end, we may see that they closely correspond: as he labours to deliver the image of a brave knight perfected in the virtues, the poem itself fashions a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline. The image which the poet creates is thus re-created in the reader. Strictly speaking, its Idea is not fulfilled in the writing of the poem— perhaps this is why Sidney, 'in which Architectonical art he was such a

____________________
From The Structure of Allegory in" The Faerie Queene. " Copyright © 1961 by Oxford University Press.

-41-

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