Dissembling in The Faerie Queene and Paradise Lost

Dissemble: to give a false impression either by words, actions, or disguise. In tracking this commonplace there is fairly little ambiguity; a character is either being deceived or they are not. In Spenser it most often occurs through magic (especially magic of disguise) and is very often accompanied by the word “seem(ed)” (or any variant spelling thereof). In Milton physical disguise, though it does occur, is less important; the greater portion of the dissembling is carried out rhetorically.

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