Study Guide

Abessa, Corceca, and Kirkrapine in The Faerie Queene

By Edmund Spenser

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Abessa, Corceca, and Kirkrapine

Abessa, Corceca, and Kirkrapine are not the most functional family. Abessa, who runs into Una and her lion after Redcrosse has abandoned her in Book 1, is blind, deaf, and unable to speak and instead of understanding that Una is a benevolent person, she runs in terror.

Abessa's name means "deficiency" and thus her physical inability to perceive things or listen represent an intellectual inability to recognize truths that are right in front of you. In this case, that's Una, who we know stands not only for truth itself, but also for the one True Protestant Church. Thus, Abessa reflects a Catholic point of view which, in Spenser's opinion, saw but did not believe in the true Protestant church.

Her mother Corceca, whose name means "blind heart," reinforces Abessa's Catholic identity. Corceca spends all her time at home obsessively following rituals and praying. Empty, or blind, obsession with rituals was another common critique Protestants made of the Catholic Church.

Finally, Kirkrapine, Corceca's boyfriend, appears to be funding the two women through his crime, which echoes the many charges of corruption and criminality leveled at the Catholic Church by Protestants. The fact that Una can make it through this trial untouched by these character's problems just goes to show the strength and resolution of true belief.

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