The Faerie Queene

Spencer's Mercy

Spenser's Faerie Queene evinces the New Testament religious doctrine that God shows infinite mercy toward man, and by "heauenly grace doth...vphold" (VIII.1.3) him despite his weaknesses. This philosophy, shown in The Faerie Queene through Redcrosse Knight's ascension to Sainthood despite his failures and weaknesses, contends that through God's grace one can be a "righteous man" despite "daily fall[s]" (VIII.1.2). Spenser's project, in part, is to educate his readers in this doctrine of divine mercy. Additionally, Spenser utilizes the philosophy of mercy in reference to his own text. He chooses to show mercy to the Catholic and pagan traditions of old, lending his own strength to them to lift them to righteousness. In a complicated way, he shows, through a tale of God's mercy, how he can help England rework her old cultural and literary traditions, flawed though they are, to fit the new Protestant order.

In order to make the lesson on divine mercy palatable and relevant to his readers, Spenser has to make Redcrosse Knight into a representative of the English populace and country. Spenser first establishes a connection between the Knight and England by linking Redcrosse with...

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