The Faerie Queene

This Great Stage of Fools: The Journey of Delusion and Deceit in Spenser's The Faerie Queene and Shakespeare's King Lear

This Great Stage of Fools: The Journey of Delusion and Deceit in

Spenser's The Faerie Queene and Shakespeare's King Lear

Perhaps more than any other period in British history, the English Renaissance embodied the themes of deception and deceitfulness. Political conspiracies ran rampant in court and loyalty was something constantly in question ("Sixteenth" 494). This tone inevitably is shown throughout literature from the English Renaissance, such as both Edward Spenser's The Faerie Queene and William Shakespeare's King Lear. However, while Spenser focuses on the finally triumphant journey of a wholly good and holy-minded individual through such a deceitful, and thus sinful world, Shakespeare focuses on individuals so ensnared by delusions that they cannot separate themselves and thus die in such a state.

Spenser's epic poem is, first and foremost, religious in nature. Book I follows Redcross Knight, who is identified as a knight who will eventually become St. George, patron saint of England. From the beginning, therefore, the reader is aware that the protagonist is not only a holy individual, but will eventually be successful in his quest. In his quest, Redcross Knight encounters trials and...

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