The purpose of this project centered around Spenser’s representations of the mythic Arthur. Using a New Historicist approach, I situated Arthur within a late Elizabethan religious context, a context filled with images of and discourse about Apocalypse and the return of Christ.
This context makes its way into The Faerie Queene through Arthur. Seeking his bride, Gloriana, he stands for the Christ as figured by St. John’s Revelation, the Christ which will return at the end of time to unite his own Bride, the Church. This marriage—and others in the poem—is always deferred, however. This deferral of marriages reflects the failed hopes of Protestants like Spenser for immediate Apocalypse. I concluded that these failed hopes permeate Spenser’s text both through delayed marriages and through an ever-present undercurrent of expectations for consummation not in the temporal present, but rather in some unforeseeable, inaccessible future.