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“Beauty’s Red and Virtue’s White”: Representations of the Beauty/Virtue Topos in Book III of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene and Aemilia Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Emily Ann Johnson (Creator)
Institution
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: http://www.library.appstate.edu/
Advisor
Susan Staub

Abstract: The representation of beauty was a primary focus of the early modern author, and in the Neo-Platonic and Petrarchan traditions, outer beauty was a sign of inner virtue; however, this signification seems to be questioned and manipulated by early modern authors like Edmund Spenser and Aemilia Lanyer. Throughout Book III of Spenser’s Faerie Queene, female beauty and female virtue are inextricably connected as a result of Spenser’s use of the Neo-Platonic and Petrarchan traditions. In Book III, the “Book of Chastity,” Spenser provides a plethora of representations that reinforce the connection between beauty and virtue; however, the paradox associated with this connection becomes evident when corporeality, or the female body, is introduced. In Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, Aemilia Lanyer also takes part in the Neo-Platonic and Petrarchan traditions, but she also manipulates and questions this paradox. Both authors utilize the Neo-Platonic and Petrarchan traditions to fashion their own concepts of virtue: Spenser utilizes this connection to prescribe the Protestant concept of married chastity for early modern women, and Lanyer utilizes this connection to author a defense of women.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
Johnson, E.A. (2012). “Beauty’s Red and Virtue’s White”: Representations of the Beauty/Virtue Topos in Book III of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene and Aemilia Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2012
Keywords
Beauty, Virtue, Spenser, Lanyer, The Faerie Queene, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum