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Allegory, Ethics, and Subjectivity: A Lacanian Rereading of Book II of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene
Edmund Spenser,The Faerie Queene,allegory,temperance,the golden mean,the ethics of desire,the subject of the unconscious,the objet a,
|Publication Year :||2011|
In this dissertation, I endeavor to reread and reevaluate The Legend of Temperance in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, bringing to bear Lacan’s theories of the topological structure, the ethics of desire, and the subject of the unconscious to examine three related topics—allegory, ethics and subjectivity.
In the second chapter, I combine Jon Whitman’s observations on the traditions of allegory comprising the compositional and the critical and interpretational, Walter Benjamin’s idea of the dialectical potential of allegory and Gordon Teskey’s further elaboration, and Lacan’s theorization of the topological structure, to suggest that Spenser displays three principles in his allegory of temperance: that allegory is interpretational, it is dialectical and it is topological. Spenser is therefore able to both compose and critique, both weave and unweave his own allegory and complicate the conceptual opposites and present their relations as non-oppositionally dialectical as is embodied by the Mobius structure.
In the third chapter, Spenserian temperance is evaluated not so much from the frame of Aristotelian ethics, which suffers from the opposition between ethics and eros, as from the ethics of desire proposed by psychoanalysis—which resituates eros back into the domain of ethics and construes ethics as a structure of desire—and Shingu Kazushige’s elaboration on the objet a as the golden mean—which opens up the dimensions of irrational harmony and relation of eros and Agape—are more akin to Spenser’s presentation and critique of an ethics devoid of desire bodied forth by the knight of temperance, specifically in canto vii and canto xii.
In the fourth chapter, the Renaissance faculty psychology and Lacan’s theories of the subject and the objet a are introduced, and Spenser’s various models of subjectivity, including Medina’s Castle, Alma’s House of Temperance, and Acrasia’s Bower of Bliss, are analyzed to figure out his conception of the ideal subject. Also, the ethical relation between Ich and Es, the subject and its unconscious desire, is highlighted to revaluate the subject’s predicament demonstrated by Guyon and Arthur in the parlor scene.
In sum, this dissertation, as a mere point of departure for a real journey, aims to unveil the postmodern potential and concerns prefigured in Spenser’s poem, which still await full appreciation and further explorations.
|Appears in Collections:||外國語文學系|
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