Richard Danson Brown
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Doubtful words
The vocabulary of The Faerie Queene
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This chapter is concerned with the diction and choice of word in the poem. It focuses on questions which relate to the rhetorical character of Elizabethan thinking and the styles Spenser deploys and the choices he makes in the construction of his poem. The first half of the chapter considers questions surrounding how Spenser used language – was he diffuse or condensed; to what extent is his lexis formulaic? – through the debate around his use of archaic diction. The second half of the chapter considers the episode of Artegall’s encounter with the egalitarian Giant in V.ii in terms of the ways in which Spenser’s choices of epithet position the protagonists and the reader in relation to the episode’s complex political meanings.

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