The themes of temperance, that being the employment of restraint, or at least moderation, especially in the yielding to personal appetites or desires, and of intemperance, the submitting to such desires, pervade Book Two of The Faerie Queene. Prior to describing individual rooms within the Castle of Alma, it is useful to briefly discuss how the idea of the castle functions within the Book. Spenser compares the towers of the structure with towers at Thebes and Troy, which stand as monuments to individuals. According to Berger, Alma's Castle functions as an 'archetype of human temperance'; Spenser specifically describes the building in terms of the human body, relating it to Christian teachings; in the first canto, he states:
Of all Gods workes, which do this world adorn, There is no one more faire and excellent, Then is mans body both for powre and form, Whiles it is kept in sobre government...
Spenser's statement borrows from the polemic of St. Augustine, which states 'there is no need... that in our sins and vices we accuse the nature of the flesh to the injury of the creator, for in its own kind and degree the flesh is good.' (Berger) Alma's castle represents this 'good flesh'. Throughout canto IX, the reader is shown that the inordinate uses of the flesh, intemperance, that permeate all other cantos of book II, are not the only possible uses of the flesh, as represented by the actions of Guyo. Concerning the interior of the castle, the Kitchen is described in detail, in terms which can be directly related to Spenser's presentation of Mammon's refinery in canto VII; he portrays both temperate and intemperate versions of similar processes of conversion and production. The kitchen is described as:
A vault built for great dispence With many ranges reard along the wall, And one great chimney, whose long tonnel thence, The smoke force threw. And in the midst of all There placed was a cauldron wide and tall, Upon a mighty furnace...
Similarly, Mammon's refinery is described as occupying a vault-like room,
Therein a hundred ranges weren pight, And hundred fornaces many feends did bide, Deformed creatures, horrible In sight, And every feend his busie paines applide.
Alma's kitchen is controlled by 'many cookes' who 'about their businesse sweat, and .. toyld'. The master cook, Concoction, is described in terms of temperance, as 'A careful man...full of comely guise'. The Clerk, Digestion, is 'seemly wise', and controls all 'as well as he could devise'. In comparison to this scene of freedom, order and control, the workers in Mammon's realm are 'feends', slaves with no apparent freedom. Whereas Alma's kitchen converts food into humors for consumption by the body, Mammo Alma's parlour further extends the theme of order and temperance, however it also introduces elements of intemperance, mirroring the temptations which Guyon continually encounters throughout all cantos of book II. The parlour is described in terms of its occupants, rather than its decor and structure. Passions, in the form of love, desire and pleasure are related, prior to the revelation of their negative counterparts; Jealousy, grief, aversions, and hatred are present amongst the occupants of the house; ...some could not abide to toy, All pleasance was to them briefe and annoy: This fround, that faund, the third for shame did blush, Another seemed envious, or coy, Another in her teeth did gnaw a rush. (Stanza 35) Throughout Book II Guyon is seen to exert his aversion to pleasure, as he crushes and smashes the illusions of intemperance in canto XII, and shrugs off temptations in canto VII. Here, in Alma's parlour, these temptations, the passions, are also present, however they are subdued, natural and not corrupting. Whilst still seen as flaws in man, they are accepted; as in all things, moderation is the key. As Berger comments, whereas Guyon rejects passions as 'unbefitting an excellent man, here they are knigh
Berger, H. The Allegorical Temper: vision and reality in Book II of Spenser's Faerie Queene, Yale University Press, 1957.