The central hero of the poem, although he does not play the
most significant role in its action. Arthur is in search of
the Faerie Queene, whom he saw in a vision. The "real"
Arthur was a king of the Britons in the 5th or 6th century
A.D., but the little historical information we have about
him is overwhelmed by his legend.
Faerie Queene (also known as Gloriana)
Though she never appears in the poem, the Faerie Queene is
the focus of the poem; her castle is the ultimate goal or
destination of many of the poems characters. She represents
Queen Elizabeth, among others, as discussed in the Commentary.
The Redcrosse Knight is the hero of Book I; he stands for the
virtue of Holiness. His real name is discovered to be
George, and he ends up becoming St. George, the patron
saint of England. On another level, though, he is the
individual Christian fighting against evil--or the
Protestant fighting the Catholic Church.
Redcrosse's future wife, and the other major protagonist in
Book I. She is meek, humble, and beautiful, but strong
when it is necessary; she represents Truth, which Redcrosse
must find in order to be a true Christian.
The opposite of Una, she represents falsehood and nearly
succeeds in getting Redcrosse to leave Una for good. She
appears beautiful, but it is only skin-deep.
Next to Duessa, a major antagonist in Book I. Archimago is a
sorcerer capable of changing his own appearance or that of
others; in the end, his magic is proven weak and ineffective.
The hero of Book III, the female warrior virgin, who
represents Chastity. She is a skilled fighter and strong
of heart, with an amazing capacity for calm thought in
troublesome circumstances. Of course, she is chaste, but
she also desires true Christian love. She searches for her
future husband, Arthegall, whom she saw in a vision through
a magic mirror.
Another significant female character in Book III, Florimell
represents Beauty. She is also chaste but constantly hounded
who go mad with lust for her. She does love one knight,
who seems to be the only character that does not
Satyrane is the son of a human and a satyr (a half-human, half-goat creature).
He is "nature's knight," the
best a man can be through his own natural abilities
without the enlightenment of Christianity and God's grace.
He is significant in both Book I and Book III, generally
as an aide to the protagonists.