Social Critique in Edmund Spenser's "The Shepheardes Calendar" Analytical Essay by Nicky

An in-depth analysis of Edmund Spenser's landmark 1579 pastoral composition, "The Shepheardes Calendar".
# 150772 | 5,222 words | 7 sources | APA | 2012 | US
Published on Apr 20, 2012 in Literature (English) , Literature (Poetry)

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The paper provides an introduction to Edmund Spenser's pastoral poetry, entitled "The Shepheardes Calendar" that provides a critique of the social and political structure defining 16th century European life. The paper explores the ambiguity surrounding Spenser's humble origins, the choice of language in the poem and its general content. The paper points out the uniqueness of a man rising to a courtly status during his time in spite of a common birth.

Background on Spenser

From the Paper:

"Indeed, his numerous biographers would go on to generally agree that his education at Cambridge, a step which helped to launch him into a different socio-economic echelon, would be made possible by a wealthy benefactor. This is to note that he was not by himself possessed of the means to pursue such an education, but would be on the receiving-end of a unique opportunity. Quite so, economic mobility in his time would be rarified to say the least. Even still, in reflection, it cannot be said with any certainty that Spenser distinguished himself at this most competitive of institutions. Research denotes that "little is known of Spenser's Cambridge career, except that he was a sizar of Pembroke Hall, took his bachelor's degree in 1572, his master's in 1576, and left Cambridge without having obtained a fellowship." (NNDB, 1) Again, we are reinforced in the perspective that Spenser may have straddled an economic line and a line in terms of stature both of which produced a unique duality of perspective. At once devoted to the crown and simultaneously aware of the inequities produced by its reign, Spenser would come to combine an elite scholar's education with an economically grounded vantage point."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Bear, R.S. (2006). Introduction to Edmund Spenser's The Shephearde's Calendar. The University of Oregon.
  • Hales, J.W. (2004). The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Biography of Edmund Spenser. Project Gutenberg.
  • Hamilton, A.C. (1990). The Spenser Encyclopedia. University of Toronto Press.
  • NNDB. (2008). Edmund Spenser. Soylent Communications. Online at
  • Schwartz, D.B. (2002). Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Comedy. CalPoly.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Social Critique in Edmund Spenser's "The Shepheardes Calendar" (2012, April 20) Retrieved February 06, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Social Critique in Edmund Spenser's "The Shepheardes Calendar"" 20 April 2012. Web. 06 February. 2023. <>