The Faerie Queene is basically House of Cards, plus monsters. Well, sort of. Although we spend most of our time in the poem following the deeds of knights and ladies without political responsibility, politics is always lurking in The Faerie Queene. Many of the knights we meet, like Britomart and Arthur, are destined to be involved in the political world later in their lives.
Others are responsible for defending the political power of various monarchs, like the Faerie Queene or Mercilla, and are part of a political structure even if they may not always seem to realize that. This is a poem where the political—sometimes good, sometimes problematic, but always unavoidable—plays a major role.
Questions About Politics
- How many different forms of government do we encounter in the poem (monarchies, tyrannies, democracies, etc.)? Why do we encounter the forms that we do?
- What seems to be the relationship between women and political power in the poem?
- Are romance and politics connected in this poem? If so, how? If not, why?
Chew on This
The Faerie Queene is set an imaginary place with imaginary rulers and queens—there's no way it can be actually referring to politics in the real world.
Because The Faerie Queene depicts outdated social and governmental structures, it's really thinking about a political world of the past, not about a political world in Spenser's present.