The central hero of the poem, although he does not play the most significant role in its action. Arthur is in search of the Faerie Queene, whom he saw in a vision. The "real" Arthur was a king of the Britons in the 5th or 6th century A.D., but the little historical information we have about him is overwhelmed by his legend.
Faerie Queene (also known as Gloriana)
Though she never appears in the poem, the Faerie Queene is the focus of the poem; her castle is the ultimate goal or destination of many of the poems characters. She represents Queen Elizabeth, among others, as discussed in the Commentary.
The Redcrosse Knight is the hero of Book I; he stands for the virtue of Holiness. His real name is discovered to be George, and he ends up becoming St. George, the patron saint of England. On another level, though, he is the individual Christian fighting against evil--or the Protestant fighting the Catholic Church.
Redcrosse's future wife, and the other major protagonist in Book I. She is meek, humble, and beautiful, but strong when it is necessary; she represents Truth, which Redcrosse must find in order to be a true Christian.
The opposite of Una, she represents falsehood and nearly succeeds in getting Redcrosse to leave Una for good. She appears beautiful, but it is only skin-deep.
Next to Duessa, a major antagonist in Book I. Archimago is a sorcerer capable of changing his own appearance or that of others; in the end, his magic is proven weak and ineffective.
The hero of Book III, the female warrior virgin, who represents Chastity. She is a skilled fighter and strong of heart, with an amazing capacity for calm thought in troublesome circumstances. Of course, she is chaste, but she also desires true Christian love. She searches for her future husband, Arthegall, whom she saw in a vision through a magic mirror.
Another significant female character in Book III, Florimell represents Beauty. She is also chaste but constantly hounded by men who go mad with lust for her. She does love one knight, who seems to be the only character that does not love her.
Satyrane is the son of a human and a satyr (a half-human, half-goat creature). He is "nature's knight," the best a man can be through his own natural abilities without the enlightenment of Christianity and God's grace. He is significant in both Book I and Book III, generally as an aide to the protagonists.