Masculinity And Femininity In Spencer's Faerie Queen

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Spencer’s Faerie Queen conceptualizes the origin of love and justice and the way they have become the conventional expressions of human desire. My argument is centered on an androgynous image of Britomart, the female protagonist in Book 3. Androgynous characters show the harmony of subsumed sexual contraries, in this case Britomart is visible having a combination of both masculinity and femininity.
Britomart undergoes a transformation from feminine to masculine the moment she sees the image in the mirror. The disguise of a Knight which she adopts makes her shed all the familiar contours and in that disguise she is able to find her true self. She is shown as a perfect combination of masculine strength and feminine fairness; she is gentle and violent both. Her armor brings out the masculinity but the hairs under her helmet represent her confined femininity. Britomart is an androgynous character who jumps on the battlefield to find Artegall so she can free herself from the pains of love she is suffering as a woman. Spencer reveals real identity of Britomart later to hint at her dual sexuality as seen in these lines “for she was full of amiable grace, / and
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She shows aggression, confidence and an absence of submissiveness. Spencer deconstructs the stereotypes attached to feminine nature such as beauty, passiveness and submission. Britomart has incorporated the male and female elements both so she can enter the battlefield.
Britomart takes an active role in a loving relationship and is an anti- Petrarchan heroine, she is also uncertain because she falls in love with Aretgall having seen nothing but his image in mirror. Spencer gives Britomart the chance to have a subjective participation in finding the image of mirror. The disguise of Britomart is a dimension of feminine mystery and is also presented as an androgynous wholeness. The androgynous nature only gives some moments of happiness to human
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