“Deal with Women as if They Were Fire”

The Redcrosse Knight fails to take Una’s warning under advisement when entering “Errours den” because of spiritual texts such as Philokalia that stress the importance of avoiding all types of interaction with women, let alone placing value on their opinions. Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen includes the Redcrosse Knight and Una traveling in the woods only to be caught in a raging storm that forces them to find shelter in the first book. When happening upon a cave, Una immediately urges the Knight that it is dangerous and further expands by claiming it, “breedes dreadfull doubts: Oft fire is without smoke, and perill is without show: therefore your stroke Sir knight with-hold, till further trial made” (Spenser, 44, Book I, Canto I, Stanza 15-17). Nevertheless, Redcrosse Knight briefly replies that they should not turn away from shelter amidst the storm and enters the “Errours den” without a second thought. Here he is attacked and almost strangled by the awful serpent-like beast coined “Errours” hated by both God and man.

Thus, it seems the Knight does not truly listen to Una, and when making decisions feels solely responsible, boldly responsible, immediately responsible. * To give some background, the overall logic behind advising men to avoid all conversation with women is the belief that a man will then completely escape passion in the form of lust (Kadloubovsky, 377). This is because lust is a sin rooted in the human flesh which turns one away from God and all that is otherworldly. In addition, since stopping all conversation with women is extreme, Philokalia advises men to, “deal with women as though they were fire” so that they, “become firmly established in the fear of God” (Kadloubovsky, 377). This specific spiritual text also tells men to not look at women and to limit the length of their conservations, so that way they can minimize the fire of desire in their hearts (Kadloubovsky, 377). Thus, it is difficult to imagine a way to listen and prioritize a woman’s opinion under this way of thinking where women are surrounded in a negative aura. Yet, it is also noted that one should never leave his wife by his own accord, as this is a holy union between a man and a woman and is to be cherished. Therefore, while the Redcrosse Knight could have bypassed an attack from “Errours” by listening to Una, it can be theorized that he was simply following the belief system of unmarried women representing fire and a departure from God. Under this tradition of thinking, the Redcrosse Knight is considered wise for keeping Una at a distance, until the union of marriage. **

*Epistrophe; Farnsworth Book

**Logos: Induction; May Book