“The Faerie Queene” is a symbolic narrative of adventure and chivalry. The characters in this poem and the situations in which they find themselves bear symbolic significance.
The Red Cross Knight, who typifies the virtue of holiness, engages himself in a fight against Monster Error and ultimately defeats it. This encounter is the first in a series of battles that the Knight has to fight in his journey.
The Red Cross Knight, accompanied by Una or truth, embarks on a journey towards the land of her parents, who a dead Dragon has imprisoned. The Knight will have to destroy the dragon and free Una`s parents. This is a symbolization of a man`s journey to his spiritual goal.
Like The Red Cross Knight, an ethical man has to encounter many temptations and many evil forces. One who can complete one’s course through the innumerable danger can surely fulfill the ultimate goal.
The first challenge comes from Error. If a man can subdue all the errors that beset his path, he can continue on his spiritual journey. Accordingly, The Red Cross Knight has to fight his first battle against the monster of Errors.
The Fight between The Knight And The Monster Has A Biblical Significance
In canto I, we first see that the Red Cross Knight and Una coming to a labyrinth when they are pretty lost have to decide which path to choose. They decide to choose the way which looks well-trodden and ultimately come to the den of the monster of Error.
The Monster is a horrible creature that is half-woman and half-serpent.
This reminds us of the biblical story of Satan and Eve. The original sin of misjudgment committed by Adam was due to the guiles of Satan, who approached Eden as a serpent. Besides, it alleges Eve, the woman, of her persuasion.
The serpent and the woman together in the Monster Error are significant features. The Monster lives in the cave’s darkness, which means the fear of the light of truth. People ignorant and erroneous in their religious views are afraid of the truth, which is light and sunshine.
The Monster’s Vomit Signifies False Religion And Its Teachings
When the Red Cross Knight approaches the cave, the light emanating from his dazzling shield startles and enrages the Monster. It comes to attack him and binds him with his serpentine coils.
The Monster nearly overpowers the Red Cross Knight, but being strengthened by the encouragement of Una, he grabbed the Monster’s throat. The Monster vomits filthy and horrible stinking black poison from her mouth.
The vomit was full of big lumps of undigested flesh that stunk so horribly that the Knight was forced to slacken his grip.
Her Vomit full of Books and Papers was,
With loathly Frogs and Toads, which Eyes did lack,
And creeping, sought way in the weedy Grass:
Her filthy Parbreake all the Place defiled has.The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser
The incident carries a vital significance. The Monster Error vomits books and papers with which she feeds herself daily.
The numerous books and pamphlets are published by the advocates of false faith and false religion. These books and pamphlets create errors in religion and multiply them to mislead many innocent Christians.
The Monster Error has got thousands of offspring who drink the poisonous blood of their mother. They signify the numerous minor errors on the significant error: the false religion.
The Monster’s Offspring Die to Signify Self-Defeating Evil
The Red Cross Knight strikes with his entire force ad cuts off the head of the Monster. Her coal-black blood gushes forth, and her offspring gather around her body and suck up their dying mother’s blood.
They flocked all about her bleeding Wound
And sucked up their dying Mother’s Blood,
Making her Death their Life, and eke her Hurt their Good.The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser
These creatures drink the Monster’s blood; as a result, their bellies burst, and they also die. This episode signifies the self-defeating nature of Evil.
The more minor errors try to live on the blood of the significant error, but it only causes their destruction. When a big falsehood is defeated and overcome, the smaller falsehood does not survive long.
The fight with Monster Error epitomizes the whole Book I of “The Faerie Queene.” It shows how dangerous the enemy of truth and goodness can be. It also shows that when Truth supports holiness, it can easily defeat the enemy.
The Red Cross Knight’s first fight and the first test of his strength. Following this fight, he fights other manifestations of Evil coming to him in different disguises.
The encounter of the Monster Error depicts man’s ongoing trial. A man aspires to get brightened but is strained in many ways.