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THE GOODLY FRAME OF TEMPERANCE: THE METAPHOR OF COSMOS IN THE FAERIE QUEENE, BOOK II JAMES CARSCALLEN For Spenser temperance has various images: it is a golden rule or square, it is a bridle, it is water tempering wine.' It is also a structure or framethe frame at once of the individual man, the commonwealth, and the universe itself; and this is as we should expect from an age in which La Primaudaye can introduce temperance by praising God's cosmic workmanship : The divine excellencie of the order, of the equall and wonderfull constancy of the parts of the world, as well in the goodly and temperate moderation of the seasons of the yeare, as in the mutuall conjunction of the elements, obeying altogether with a perfect harmony the gracious and soueraigne government of their Creator, was the cause that Pythagoras first called all the compasse of this universall frame by this name of World, which without such an excellent disposition would bee but disorder and a world of confusion. For this word World signifieth as much as Ornament, or a well disposed order of things. Now as a constant and temperate order is the foundation thereof, so the ground-worke and preservation of mans happy life, for whom all things were made, is the vertue of Temperance... ,2 The universe, as Elizabethan poets often remember; was made when a divine authority ended the jarring of the elements, bringing them into obedience and measure; and these attributes enable us to say that the universe has temperance, although we can equally say that it has holiness , chastity, concord, justice, and courtesy. In man temperance comes about in a similar way, as reason's government is brought to the passions; and in ruling these reason also rules their objects, the prosperity and adversity brought by an external world that was itself made for man. Standing firm against any disorder from within or from without, man is tempered as steel is tempered by fire and water, and is thus fitted to make the whole world the castle of his soul. There is nothing unfamiliar in this notion of temperance-or of virtue in general-as a well-governed structure of universal proportions;4 but I believe it can help us better than any other metaphor to see the order of Spenser's second book-to Volume XXXVll, NU1┬╗beT 2, January, 1968 THE GOODLY FRAME OF TEMPERANCE 137 discover in it a nobility of "structure," in a different sense, for which it has not always received the praise it deserves. In speaking of temperance as a goodly frame, I shall be adding still another scheme-one based on the four elements-to the schemes that have already been used by scholars to help interpret this book, such as that of the virtues and vices "as Aristotle hath devised" and that of the Seven Deadly Sins.' All these schemes are by themselves purely classificatory or expository, in the sense that their order is unrelated to processes in time. If they are to tum into the shape of a story, they must be somehow transformed, for the hero of a story is a being in time who makes choices and is made by them, and if he encounters a series of evils, he will face each new One with a new and more complex constitution of his experience. To serve as a trial for him, these evils will at least have to get harder to deal with as they go on, and they may grow in complexity as well, just as his experience does. If so, they will be like the increasingly subtle guises of a single shape-changing magician, who again and again can say, with Eliot's Tempter, "I am an unexpected visitor." When we discuss Spenser's use of any expository scheme, then, we may well ask whether he is using the parts only or the whole- the scheme as a scheme, in other words-and, if he is doing the latter, how he has assimilated the scheme to the temporal nature of a story. In The Faerie Queene schemes that have not been assimilated in this way seem to occur mainly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 136-155
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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