The English Eden : Nationhood and Kingship in Shakespeare and Spenser
Throughout the Renaissance in England are works that glorify the nation under a strong nationalistic message. Spenser, with The Faerie Queene, presents a chivalric romance that follows the adventures of several knights who seek to complete tasks for the titular queen Gloriana. It is through multiple levels of allegory that these knights and the enemies they overcome become embodiments of the English nation triumphing over foreign and Catholic nations. It is not just this political lens, but also the blending of religious parallels that elevates these English heroes like Redcrosse and Prince Arthur into Christ-figures, primarily in the context of Christ as a righteous warrior and conqueror. Shakespeare, while not as extensive in the use of allegory as Spenser, also delves into similar ideas concerning the presentation of a strong and united England. However, he also emphasizes the king's role in creating and maintaining a strong nation, with the kings being associated with Christ. Alongside this comparison to Christ is also the recurring conceit that compares the nation to a garden, England as an Eden; such a nation requires a proper gardener, a strong king, to maintain it. By reading in a Spenserian mode, the similarities (and the differences) become apparent in understanding the ideas, praise, and critique for a strong monarch that in turn allows for a strong nation in Shakespeare's English history plays. Though the focus of this thesis will primarily be on the Henriad plays, the inclusion of Spenser provides a contemporary with which to compare and contrast ideas that are shared between both authors.
Lukens, David. (January 2014). The English Eden : Nationhood and Kingship in Shakespeare and Spenser (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4567.)
Lukens, David. The English Eden : Nationhood and Kingship in Shakespeare and Spenser. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, January 2014. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4567. February 23, 2019.
Lukens, David, “The English Eden : Nationhood and Kingship in Shakespeare and Spenser” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, January 2014).
Lukens, David. The English Eden : Nationhood and Kingship in Shakespeare and Spenser [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; January 2014.
East Carolina University