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  • Level: GCSE
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Both Spenser and Milton use Language to Describe Allegorical Figures. Who Does So More Effectively?

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"The Faerie Queene" Book 1, Canto IX, Stanzas XXXIII-XXVI- Edmund Spenser "Paradise Lost" Book 2, lines 644-680 - John Milton Both Spenser and Milton use Language to Describe Allegorical Figures. Who Does So More Effectively? Milton and Spenser are both describing awful situations in their relative poems. Spenser concentrates on an empty existence filled with gloom and despair. Whilst Milton is describing an encounter with the gates of hell itself, and indeed two terrible creatures, causing an atmosphere of pure and utter evil flocculated with horror. Milton's language suggests ultimate evil with words that distort the original dramatic meaning. We casually use words like "terrible," when describing the weather. In Milton's poem, words like "terrible" exist to talk about unimaginably frightening situations. When Milton uses the phrase "terrible as hell," he is saying it is so terrible it is beyond human comprehension. To create horror, Milton uses dark words to build up sinister imagery, e.g. "fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell." Using these extreme adjectives, we can picture the beast growing as the description continues. Another tool that helps illustrate the mental picture of the scene is the introduction of shadow and darkness: "Black it stood as night." ...read more.


Having read this description, the reader feels uncomfortable and sickened; Milton has taken societies deepest taboos and tried to fit them into the every day lives of his characters giving a horror-filled effect. With regard to Spenser, in this part of "The Faerie Queene," Spenser starts describing despair in the form of an empty existence. Spenser has extra meaning and depth to many of his words, taking them beyond face value. In doing this, he uses similar techniques to Milton. Like Milton ("hell-bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof.") Spenser alliterates words to impress the deeper meaning. Examples of such emphasis include the "the wicked wight," when describing despair as a man, and a "craggie clife," when describing despair (the whole poem is a description of despair emerging in different forms: e.g. a wicked man, a hollow cave...) in the form of a cliff. The emphasis encourages the reader to imagine the man as wicked and the cliff as craggie, rather than having his eyes just purely drift over the paper. The alliteration causes the reader to focus more on the words and thus discover more meaning and imagery. While describing despair in the form of gloomy carcasses underneath the cliff, Spenser also uses certain words such as "Darke, doleful, drear". ...read more.


A region of sorrow,) also saying he would have turned back if not for his friend forcing him to stay. This demonstrates that even courageous knights, are filled with the utmost fear of hollow existence. When the knight finally reaches the den of despair, Spenser has an outburst of detail and description, trying to use language to create the most tangible image. Regarding the man, Spenser emphasizes everything about his low status. In Spenser's mind, the man is filthy. Spenser portrays this by saying "...low sitting on the ground". This shows Spenser associates the man with being low, soulless bound to the ground forever. He has "greesie locks," which are "long growen an unbound". This implies the man's extreme filth, as he has not washed, cleaned, or groomed himself. Spenser ends describing a dead person, bringing new filth and hopeless despair into the atmosphere. The "drearie coarse," which is "all wallowed in his own yet luke-warme blood," the thought of the "rusty," knife, is also disgusting because the rust would cause a heavy infection, therefore, no chance for recovery equaling despair. Milton uses language more effectively because he understands the character he is describing on a deeper level. This in turn benefits the reader by letting him/her picture the allegorical figure, fear, more clearly and with more character. ...read more.

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