Spenser employs rich imagery in describing the palace of Lucifera. As Redcross approaches the castle, the narrator describes it as:
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 ouer them displaid.
That purest skye with brightnesse they dismaid:
High lifted vp were many loftie towres,
And goodly galleries farre ouer laid,
Full of faire windowes, and delightfull bowres;
And on the top a Diall told the timely howres.
Spenser paints a vivid picture of the castle, both highlighting its majesty but also suggesting that there is something deceptive about Lucifer’s splendor. He describes the “stately” palace with vivid visual details: its high, golden walls, bright skies, “loftie towers,” and many “faire windows.”
However, some of these visual details also seem to undermine the grandeur of the palace. Though the walls are high, they are not “strong, nor thick,” and their gold surfaces are merely “golden foile.” The “square bricke” walls of the palace were built “cunningly” but without any “morter,” implying that they aren’t stable. Spenser’s use of imagery is subtle here, signaling to the reader that Lucifer’s palace is yet another deception for Redcross to overcome on his journey.
Struggling with her deep love for Arthegall, whom she has met only in her vision-like dreams, Britomart metaphorically compares love to a growing ulcer that has afflicted her health. Speaking with her nurse, Glauce, after receiving another vision of Arthegall, Britomart brushes off any attempts to comfort her, insisting that:
Sithens it hath infixed faster hold
Within my bleeding bowels, and so sore
Now ranckleth in this same fraile fleshly mould,
That all mine entrailes flow with poysnous gore.
And th’vlcer groweth daily more and more;
Ne can my running sore find remedie,
Other then my hard fortune to deplore,
And languish as the leafe falne from the tree,
Till death make one end of my dayes and miserie.
Using visceral imagery, Britomart figures her lovesickness as a grave physical illness that has developed within her “bleeding bowels” and rankles the “fraile fleshly mould” of her body. Further developing this metaphor, she states that her “entrailes flow with [poisonous] gore,” and that the ulcer afflicting her grows daily. Britomart’s feelings of anguish go far beyond conventional poetic laments regarding lovesickness; like the virgin warrior-goddess Diana to whom she is frequently compared in the poem, Britomart takes her chastity seriously, and she is deeply aggrieved by her feelings of longing for Arthegall.