For today’s post, I have decided to take a look at three literary Faery Queens. I will briefly discuss each Faery Queen in her own short section.
~Gloriana is the titular character of Edmund Spenser’s poem The Faerie Queene. While she is more of an overarching driving force than a character that appears in person, except in a dream sequence, she is still the controlling spirit of the plot. Literally, everything that occurs in the poem is due to the characters acting how they believe the Queen would desire them to act. Gloriana was obviously meant to be a fantastical representation of Elizabeth I herself, as the whole poem can be read as an allegory for the Tudor Court during her reign!
~Mab is the name given to the Faery Queen in both Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and later Percy Shelley’s poem with her as the titular character. We learn in the literature that this tiny Faery has control over the dreams of mortals and can even mess with their emotions due to this fact! She is often said to be the literary take, or an evolution of, the Irish Faery Goddess Maeve. However, it should be noted that this is often debated by scholars, many believing it is unlikely to have been the case.
~The final literary Queen I will be discussing in this post is the one who appeared in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her role in the plot is an interesting one in that she begins the story as a headstrong Faery Queen who wanted to keep the Changeling human child that she had been raising when his mother died. This child caused the conflict between her and the Faery King Oberon. As the plot unfolds, Oberon ordered Puck to cast a love spell on Titania to distract her so that he could win the argument. It is at that point that Puck also cast love spells on the humans just for fun. He does eventually make Titania fall in love with Bottom, who at the time had the head of an ass, which leads to one of the funniest quotes of the play “Methought I was enamoured of an ass.” once the spell was lifted. At the end of the day, I tend to think that the reason that Oberon had to resort to trickery to win the fight is that Titania was possibly the more magically powerful of the two Faery monarchs. That is incidentally something that fits with traditional Faerylore, as there is most often always a Faery Queen, but she need not always have a King to have power in her court. She is the true driving force of the power of Faeryland!
Note: Obviously, my favorite Faery Queen, Morgan le Fay is also a literary Faery Queen. I chose not to write about her for this post, as I wanted to feature three that I had not discussed quite as much!
~I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at three literary Faery Queens. Who is your favorite literary Faery Queen? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
- The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
- Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
- Queen Mab by Percy Bysshe Shelley
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
- Fairy Queens: Meeting the Queens of the Otherworld by Morgan Daimler