Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Plot Analysis

By Edmund Spenser

Plot Analysis

Exposition (Initial Situation)

Look Out World, It's Redcrosse!

Redcrosse is a new knight and he's ready to show the world what he's made of. Help this beautiful maiden slay a dragon that's tormenting her parents? He's the man for the job! Una and Redcrosse head out, Una rather somber and sad but Redcrosse itching to prove his knightly potential.

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

Look Out Redcrosse, It's The World!

After a near-death experience at the hands of the monster Error and a (mistaken) belief that his companion Una is less than honorable, Redcrosse starts to appreciate that this whole awesome-knight thing can be pretty rough going. And since he has now unwisely ditched Una for the company of the deceitful Duessa, Redcrosse definitely still has more to learn about the ways of the world.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

The Pains of Prison and the Despair of, well, Despair

Poor Redcrosse. Instead of exhibiting his knightly-skillz to handily defeat the giant Orgoglio like he was supposed to, Redcrosse was double-crossed by Duessa, defeated by the giant, and thrown into a terrible prison. Luckily Arthur came along to save him, but Redcrosse is so shaken up that he wanders into the cave of Despair and almost kills himself. Something has got to change for this guy.

Falling Action

Dragon Defeated

After receiving spiritual instruction and physical renewal at the House of Holiness, Redcrosse is ready to face the dragon and be victorious. It's no easy feat. He almost dies twice, but this time he doesn't only trust in his own strength, but knows he has to rely on the aid of others: Una and the intervention of God. Recognizing both his abilities and his limitations? Now that's truly heroic.

Resolution (Denouement)

Happily Ever After?

Even though the Dragon is defeated and Redcrosse and Una are engaged, things end a bit uneasily for Redcrosse. He's first accused of having another fiancée by the wicked Archimago, and, once he proves his innocence, he's compelled to go out again on unknown quests to fulfill his duty to the Faerie Queene. The life of a knight really isn't easy.