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Desired Light: A Study of Edmund Spenser’s Epithalamion


Desired Light: A Study of Edmund Spenser’s Epithalamion

Church, Matthew (2022) Desired Light: A Study of Edmund Spenser’s Epithalamion. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Edmund Spenser’s Epithalamion has typically been read through the lens of number symbolism or as a poem enwrapped in the heights of joy. The former reading tends to locate the poem’s climax at the alter, around the twelfth and thirteenth stanza; the latter, at the conclusion, the final two stanzas. While seemingly contradictory readings, this essay argues that both are essentially right. Proceeding stanza by stanza through the poem, this argument demonstrates a creative ascent in the first half, which is characterized by sunlight, vernal imagery, and spiritual love and which climaxes at the poem’s middle point, and a creative descent in the second, which is characterized by night, autumnal or hibernal imagery and which climaxes in the final two stanzas. These double movements and double climaxes are best identified with each other, just as all the poems’ other cyclical imagery is to be joined in union. To unify the poem’s opposites—implicit in the poem’s structure and its central theme of matrimony—is to enable an understanding of its primary concern of sex and the dissolution of binary thought, above all the subject-object dichotomy. The Epithalamion’s total vision erodes the stable barriers of identity and, in so doing, points to the central concern of all metaphorical thought.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Church, Matthew
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Date:30 August 2022
Thesis Supervisor(s):Pask, Kevin and Languay, Darragh
ID Code:990983
Deposited By: Matthew Church
Deposited On:27 Oct 2022 14:13
Last Modified:27 Oct 2022 14:13
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