Phaedria's Island - An essay about art and its connection...

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Smith 1 Lesley Smith English 490- Essay 2 Dr.Miller 16 March 2011 Response The voyage to Phaedria’s island occurs in Canto VI of Book II exactly half-way through the book of temperance. She leads Cymochles and then Guyon to a seemingly beautiful island where they are both tempted by Phaedria to stay with her there. Because this is half-way through the book of temperance we can guess that this is Guyon’s “mid-term” in the sense that up until this point he is tested by other vices of temperance but nothing that is as difficult to resist as what Phaedria offers. While Cymochles fails miserably Guyon passes and exhibits surprisingly strong virtue in the face of temptation; I would venture to say that he is even more temperate than at the beginning of book XII, at which point he is supposed to be an expert in the art of moderation. The voyage to Phaedria’s island represents the path that leads to intemperance through gratification, just as the island itself is symbolic of the resulting lust. Spenser shows that pleasure is more difficult to resist than other forms of sin through his connection between the environment and different kinds of art in canto six. ** Before understanding how this relationship of art and environment misleads characters in the poem we must look at the nature of those deceived. Cymochles falls victim to Phaedria’s allure in this passage, but he is predisposed to lust before he even gets on the gondola. Cymochles is furious from his fight with Guyon when he comes to the river and sees Phaedria in her boat. Just six stanzas later he “had no soveraunce/ nor care of vow’d revenge,and cruell
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Smith 2 fight,” because he is so enraptured by Phaedria (vi.8.3-4). He completely forgets his purpose or his anger because he is calmed by Phaedria’s entertainment, for “so easie is,t’appease the stormy winde/Of malice in the calme of plesaunte womanhood,” (vi.8.8-9). However, just because Cymochles is not hell-bent on destroying Guyon does not mean that his contentment is good. Yes, he is calmed but it is only through another kind of intemperance, which shows the connection between different types of intemperance. Spenser’s language suggests that he is already slipping away from virtue in stanza five by making the lines sounds fluid and like the gondola gliding through the water;”Eftsoones her shallow ship away did slide/ More swift, then swallor shere the liquid skye,” (vi.6.1-2). The further he gets from the shore, the further he gets
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