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Allegorical styles of writing

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Bryn Mawr

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  1. Introduction
  2. Creating allegorical texts
  3. The Faerie Queene
  4. Spenser's bridges
  5. Method of instrumental meaning
  6. Figures of personification
  7. Figures of capture
  8. Types allegorical characters
  9. The negation of the integrity
  10. The case of Francesca
  11. Seriousness of the character
  12. The difference between a figure of personification and a figure of capture
  13. Scheme of Archimago
  14. The duplicitous nature of Archimago
  15. Amoret's and Britomart's encounter with Busirane
  16. Proteus' role as a character
  17. Conclusion
  18. Works cited

Imagine you are standing at the edge of a rift. On this side of the rift lie life, reality, and the simplicity of the literary tale. On the other side of the rift is a world of mystery and ideals where morals and greater meanings are waiting to be discovered. Strung across the rift are a series of rope bridges. Some of these bridges seem sturdier than others, but any of them would provide you with an adequate means of crossing the rift. However, each of them will lead you to a slightly different point on the other side of the schism. Of course, the bridges that lie before you are determined by the path you have taken to reach the rift. If you had taken the left at the fork in the trail instead of the right you would be encountering a different set of bridges at a different point of the rift. Regardless of how you arrived at this point, you must now make a decision. Which bridge will you choose to use to cross the rift? Or will you decide to stay on this side of the rift and leave the greater meanings to those who are more adventurous and willing to test one of those rope bridges.

Although each of the bridges that cross the rift have a different point of origin and a different destination, they all have one feature in common. Each of these bridges was created in response to the rift. Each bridge becomes the means by which a relationship is created between the different entities located on either side of the rift. If we place a literary tale on one side of the rift and the greater meaning that the author wants to convey on the opposite side, then the bridges between a literary tale and its meaning can be equated with the literary device of allegory. For an allegorical work is one in which ?the agents and actions are contrived by the author to make coherent sense on the ?literal?, or primary level, of signification, and at the same time to signify a second, correlated order of signification?.

[...] Although many critics have searched for and found allegorical meanings in the characters and situations of The Faerie Queene, in doing so they have missed Spenser's larger lesson and purpose. Spenser wanted to ?fashion a gentleman? but rather than just tell his readers that which they would need to know, he sought to teach his readers how to recognize that which they would need to know. As an allegorical text, The Faerie Queene requires the active participation and involvement of the reader. [...]

[...] If Busirane is a textual recreation of an allegorist, then Proteus is the textual recreation of the chaos that is within the allegorical rift. Like chaos, Proteus is everything and nothing.[13] He is a shape shifter, capable of becoming anything that he desires. Other characters, such as Archimago, are capable of disguising their forms through magic and deceit but Spenser goes one step beyond appearance and emphasizes Proteus' ability to change not just his exterior, but to change his entire form. [...]

[...] Because an author must either incorporate or overcome the former meaning of the captured character, the allegorical bridge that is created is not as strong as that of personified characters. In other words, when readers encounter these captured characters, they are made aware of the rift at the base of allegory because the author is unable to completely distance the captured character from its former uses by other authors. In creating both types allegorical characters, there is a certain amount of inherent violence that must be recognized and acknowledged. [...]

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