Kathryn Walls
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The City of God in history
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In cantos ii-iii Spenser allegorizes the history of the heavenly City’s relationship with the visible institutions that have failed to accommodate it: Abessa’s flight represents the rejection of the gospel by the Synagogue; Una’s miserable night in the house of Corceca represents the fate of the redeemed in a superstitious pre-Reformation Church. Joined by Archimago, and attacked by Sans Loy, Una represents the abiding predicament of the redeemed. The allegory of Christ’s life (and death) on earth incorporates a quasi-prophetic allegory of the history of the Church under Henry VIII: the lion’s slaughter of Kirkrapine, for instance, alludes both to Christ’s expulsion of the money-changers from the Temple and to the dissolution of the monasteries.

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God’s only daughter

Spenser’s Una as the invisible Church


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