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Bower of Bliss: The Lair of Acrasia in The Faerie Queene

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The Bower of Bliss is a major location in book 2 of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. It is the home of Acrasia, a symbol for lust and worldly love.

While most of book 2 is dedicated to the quest to find the Bower of Bliss, we don’t see it until the final canto, when Guyon and the Palmer arrive on its shores.


The Bower of Bliss is beautiful by worldly standards, full of lush vegetation, beautiful gardens, temperate weather, etc.

It is also full of temptations, both erotic, food-related, and visual. The entire Bower is dedicated to distract and tempt you away from moderation. It lures you into an extreme.

The Bower is full of men that have been turned into creatures. When these creatures are turned back into men, many of them are upset and want to be turned back into an animal again.

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Enter Sir Guyon

Even Sir Guyon is temporarily tempted at key moments, but he is eventually able to reach the center of the Bower of Bliss, capture Acrasia, and destroy the entire place.

It is interesting to wonder why Edmund Spenser spent so much time making this place feel beautiful, even when it is clearly false. In a sense, the place almost feels wholesome. However, we are likely meant to view the Bower of Bliss as a twisted reflection of an idyllic paradise like the Garden of Eden.

See our complete list of Arthurian characters for more entries like this one.

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See also my ever-expanding list of primary and secondary sources.

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Jason is a Mythic Fantasy Author and creator of MythBank. He loves mythology, history, and geek culture. When he's not writing, his favorite hobbies include hiking, chilling with his wife, spouting nonsense words at his baby daughter, and developing this (and other) websites.

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