The Faerie Queene tells the stories of several knights, each representing a particular virtue, on their quests for the Faerie Queene, Gloriana. Redcrosse is the knight of Holiness, and must defeat both theological error and the dragon of deception to free the parents of Una ("truth"). Guyon is the knight of Temperance, who must destroy the fleshly temptations of Acrasia's Bower of Bliss. Britomart, a woman in disguise as a male knight, represents Chastity; she must find her beloved and win his heart. Artegall, the knight of Justice, must rescue the lady Eirene from an unjust bondage. Cambell and Triamond, the knights of Friendship, must aid one another in defense of various ladies' honor. Finally, Calidore, the knight of Courtesy, must stop the Blatant Beast from spreading its slanderous venom throughout the realm.
Each quest is an allegory, and the knight given the quest represents a person's internal growth in that particular virtue. Such growth happens through various trials, some of which the knights fail, showing how personal development is a struggle requiring the aid of other forces and virtues to make it complete.