In the Fairie Queen, Spenser sets the characters of Una and Duessa to directly contrast one another. While Una represents all that is good and pure, Duessa represents all that is false and immoral. Una symbolizes the Church and when Red Crosse leaves her, he is leaving the Church. He leaves her for Duessa, who represents the false Church. While Una is single minded, focusing on one truth, one god, one man, Duessa is doubleminded. Duessa changes allegianceís on a whim.
There is a similar contrast between Red Crosse and Arthur. Arthur is representative of Christ, who is in Godís ideal image. His shield is made of pure diamond, representing the light of God, the light of truth which destroys all lies. Arthur is a figure of truth and accomplishment. Red Crosse, on the other hand, is representative of a man who has lost his way, a man susceptible to temptation and lies. While good at heart, Red Crosse is not strong enough in his faith and character to stand up to the evils around him. (though when he fights the dragon, he represents an analogy of Christ the man fighting evil).
K. Y. Hamilton, BA, MA - Copyright 2001, 2006