The House of Pride in The Faerie Queene

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The House of Pride is a key setting in book 1 of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. It is the primary location in Cantos 4 and 5, and has multiple allegorical meanings associated with it.

It’s Role in the Story

The House of Pride is a structure that Duessa takes the Redcrosse knight to in book one. It is the antithesis of the House of Holiness that we see later in the book, as well as fairyland in general.

It is a representation of sin and being too devoted to the world and worldly things.

It is presided over by Lucifera, the sin of pride, along with the other six deadly sins. The seven deadly sins meet Duessa and the Redcrosse knight when they arrive, presenting one of the first situations where St. George is truly out of his depth.

While at the castle, the Redcrosse knight is confronted with, but still exhibits, the sin of pride. His battle with Sansjoy is a “vanity-driven fight”, demonstrating that he is still valuing his own vanity over modesty and restraint.

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The Physical Construction of the House Of Pride

Edmund Spenser first introduces the House of Pride with the following passage:

“A stately Pallace built of squared bricke,

Which cunningly was without morter laid,

Whose wals were high, but nothing strong, nor thick,

And golden foile all over them displaid…”

In one sense, the House of Pride is similar to the tower of Babel, the idea that mankind can build something divine with their own hands.

Additionally, Spencer’s description suggests that, while the building is impressive, its walls are not very thick or strong, suggesting a false sense of strength.

What Does the House Of Pride Represent?

The House of Pride is a symbol for the Redcrosse knight’s mind at this time, as well as the position of his soul.

Up to this point, the Redcrosse knight has shown infidelity and chose to follow Duessa rather than Una, i.e. following the wrong path toward sin. It is his inability to discern and follow the light that leads him to the House of Pride.

Just as the House of Pride looks impressive from the outside, but is actually feeble and weak, the Redcrosse knight also appears knightly and strong, but he is rotting from the inside. It will take a lot of work for him to atone from this new low. Thankfully, he is able to do it.

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Bibliography

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