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IYHLMA.t.L r.N. UlXUN Fairy Tale, Fortune, and Boethian Wonder: Rhetorical Structure in Book VI of The Faerie Queene Book VI of The Faerie Queene presents the reader with a rich and complex pattern of imagery, incident, and allegory.! Within this pattern it is possible to discern a structural design based upon the traditional motives of fairy tale. We have a hero, Sir Calidore, committed to 'simple truth and stedfast honesty,' embarked upon a quest, 'to tread an endlesse trace, withouten guyde,' in pursuit of a monster, the 'Blattant Beast.' He defeats the villain Crudor in battle, and by good example reforms his defeated enemy; he rescues two maidens in distress, Serena from the Blatant Beast, and Pastorella first from a tiger and then from the hideout of a band of brigands; he becomes betrothed to Pastorella, who turns out to be not a simple shepherdess but the long lost daughter of a nobleman. Such a pattern conforms to Susanne Langer's characterization of fairy tale as 'personal gratification, the expression of desires and of their imaginary fulfillment, a compensation for the shortcomings of real life, an escape from actual frustration and conflict:' Yet, this would be an inept description of the perspective on life which most readers find represented in Book VI. The Legend of Courtesy shares with the rest of The Faerie Queene a scope and significance conventional to epic. How, then, does Spenser move from this simplistic base of fairy tale to the full moral vision of epic? In trying to answer this question, we confront some terminological difficulties. To begin, one would like to distinguish dearly between the 'faerie' of Spenser's title and its homonym in 'fairy tale: Perhaps no confusion in these terms would arise if we had devised a more precise translation for das Miirchen than 'fairy tale,' but Tolkien argues convincingly that the relationship is more than a verbal accident.3 'A "fairy story",' he asserts, 'is one which touches on or uses Faerie, whatever its main purpose may be,' and he further complicates the problem by denying that 'Faerie' can be defined: 'Faerie cannot be caught in a net of words; for it is one of its qualities to be indescribable, though not imperceptible:- Nevertheless, the philologist, the folklorist, the anthropologist , the psychologist, and the literary critic each attempts to weave just such a 'net of words' in his own way. The resulting literature is impressive in volume, scope, and complexity, but perhaps those of its UTQ, Volume XLIV, Number 2 , Winter 1975 142 MICHAEL F. N . UIXUN elements necessary for this study can be epitomized in a simple geographical analogy. 'Faerie,' as a general term,' seems to signify the whole realm of the artistic imagination, the magical circle, within which the normal laws of nature are suspended and such things as time, space, and incident lose the independence from human control which they enjoy in everyday life to become subject to the ordering principles of that imagination. 'Fairy tale' is but one territory within this realm, functioning under the general laws of Faerie, but distinguishable from the whole by its indigenous artistic characteristics, its local ordinances, dialect, and topography, as it were.· However, this essay is mainly concerned to distinguish fairy tale, not from Faerie, the whole realm, but from epic, another territory. Here again there are similarities as well as differences between the two fictional modes, and (to complete the analogy) it would be more accurate to imagine fairy tale as a township within the province of epic than to think of the two as discrete regions.' More particularly, I attempt to distinguish between fairy tale and epic in Book VI by analysing the use Spenser makes of them rhetorically, as instruments of persuasion. 'Persuasion,' in this context, involves a relationship between author and audience in which the audience accepts the author's vision as true to the human condition or, to use a term from classical rhetoric, accepts the ethos of the work. Like all modes of Faerie, epic and fairy tale deal in the marvelous, or wonderful, and my distinctions are based upon the type of wonder each evokes and the effect that wonder might...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 141-165
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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