The mood of the poem is both adventurous and didactic. Many of Spenser’s most important influences, including classical epics and medieval romances, center upon the exciting and heroic deeds of a protagonist who has been sent on a grueling quest. Each book of The Faerie Queene introduces a new hero whose quest leads them through fierce battles and perilous encounters with monsters. Nevertheless, Spenser’s aim is both to entertain and to instruct, and even the poem’s most exciting moments convey a moral lesson. In Book I, for example, the Redcross Knight ignores the advice of his companion Una and journeys into a dark cave:
But full of fire and greedy hardiment,
The youthfull knight could not for ought be staide,
But forth vnto the darksome hole he went,
And looked in: his glistring armor made
A litle glooming light, much like a shade,
By which he saw the vgly monster plaine,
Halfe like a serpent horribly displaide,
But th’other halfe did womans shape retaine,
Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine.
Here, Spenser establishes a suspenseful mood as Redcross journeys through the dark before encountering the “vgly monster,” half-snake and half-woman, the first of many monsters whom Redcross will discover and slay. Still, despite the adventurous mood of this scene, Spenser has not forgotten his own didactic goals. Redcross is “full of fire,” reckless, and overly zealous to pick a fight. These qualities get him into trouble again and again throughout the course of Book I, demonstrating the importance of caution and responsibility. Spenser carefully balances the adventurous mood of the poem with moral lessons.