Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
The Faerie Queene is a long epic poem that begins and ends with Christian affirmations. In it, Edmund Spenser draws on both Christian and classical themes, integrating the two traditions with references to contemporary politics and religion. The poem begins with a representation of holiness in book 1, and the Mutabilitie Cantos (first printed with the poem in 1609 after Spenser’s death) conclude with a prayer. Book 1 is identified as the Legend of the Knight of the Red Cross (or Saint George) in canto 2, verses 11-12. Red Cross, as an individual, is the Protestant Everyman, but as Saint George, historically England’s patron saint, he also represents the collective people of England. He is a pilgrim who hopes to achieve the virtue holiness, and for the reader his adventures illustrate the path to holiness.
Red Cross’s overarching quest, as an individual, is to behold a vision of the New Jerusalem, but he also is engaged in a holy quest involving the lady Una, who represents the one true faith. To liberate Una’s parents, the king and queen, Adam and Eve, Red Cross must slay the dragon, who holds them prisoner. The dragon represents sin, the Spanish Armada, and the Beast of the Apocalypse, and when Red Cross defeats the dragon he is in effect restoring Eden. Red Cross is then able to enter the House of Holiness and is deemed worthy to be united with Una.
Book 2 depicts Guyon, the knight of temperance, who learns the wisdom of the...
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Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Spenser’s The Faerie Queene was published in two parts: the first part (books 1 to 3) appeared in 1590; the second part (books 4 to 6), with which the first part was reprinted, appeared in 1596. The dedication to the 1596 edition is addressed to Elizabeth I, whom Spenser describes as the empress of England, France, Ireland, and Virginia. He adds that he is consecrating “these his labours to live with the eternitie of her fame.” Although The Faerie Queene makes use of romance, as well as epic conventions, Spenser intended the poem to function as an English epic, a celebration of the emerging British empire. In his letter to Sir Walter Ralegh dated January 13, 1589, he states that the “generall end therefore of all the booke is to fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline.” Spenser also states that he will use the Aristotelian virtues as a means of organizing the themes of his epic, indicating that he will write a twelve-book epic, portraying in Arthur the twelve private moral virtues that he exercised before he was king. If this work is well received, he adds, he may continue by describing how Arthur came to embody the twelve “politick” virtues after he became king. When the second part appeared in 1596, the title page described the poem as “disposed into twelve bookes, fashioning XII morall vertues,” but no suggestion is given regarding whether the moral virtues are private or public.
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In this opening section, Spenser explains the legend of the Red Cross Knight and focuses on the importance of morality and holiness in man's life. This first book opens with the Red Cross Knight and Una journeying to destroy a dragon and rescue Una's parents. When a storm occurs, the knight and lady, accompanied by her dwarf, take shelter in a dark forest. Here they come across the monster, Error, who hates the light of truth, and her thousands of offspring. Error attacks the knight, who does not listen to Una's warnings. The Red Cross Knight must kill the monster to escape, cutting off her head. As the three continue their journey, they come across Archimago, an evil enchanter, who casts spells on the group as they sleep. The Red Cross Knight is given erotic dreams of Una, who is abandoned in the forest by the knight and dwarf, who believe the dreams. The Red Cross Knight continues on his journey where he foolishly releases the evil enchantress, Duessa, from her prison. The Red Cross Knight and Duessa continue on the journey, he still not knowing who she really is. As they journey, they arrive at a castle, inhabited by Lucifera, the mistress of Pride. She has six wizards: Idleness, Gluttony, Lechery, Avarice, Envy, and Wrath. Together, this group comprises the seven deadly sins. After a fight, which the Red Cross Knight wins, the knight leaves, still unaware that Duessa is not who she claims.
Meanwhile, Una, who has been abandoned in...
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Summary and Analysis
Summary and Analysis: Introduction and Book I, Cantos i-iv
Book I: “The Legende of the Knight of the Red Crosse, or Of Holinesse”
Abessa: The pious, prayerful mother of Corecca, who does not mind her dating a thief.
Archimago: A magician who disguises himself as an old man.
Corecca: The deaf and dumb daughter of Abessa, who is dating Kirkapine the thief.
Dwarf: The carrier of belongings, a lackey for the Lady and the Knight.
Error: A vile monster with a long, poisonous tail and many offspring.
Fidessa/Duessa: An ancient and ugly sorceress (Duessa) disguised as a beautiful young maiden (Fidessa).
Fradubio: Once a man, now bewitched into a tree.
Fraelissa: Fradubio’s Lady, also bewitched by Duessa into a tree.
Gloriana: The Queen of Faerie Land and an allegorical representation of Queen Elizabeth.
Kirkapine: Corecca’s lover, who steals money and jewels from priests and churches.
Knight of the Red Cross: The hero, a good and true Elfin Knight who fights for honor and is in the service of the Faerie Queen and Una.
Lucifera: The daughter of gods and creator of her own kingdom, which she rules by her own whims and a strong police force.
Morpheus: The god of sleep.
Queen Elizabeth: Queen of England in the sixteenth century and the person to whom the Faerie Queen is dedicated.
Sans joy: The youngest brother of Sans loy and Sans foy, a Paynim Knight and a Sarazin.
Sans loy: The middle brother of Sans foy and Sans joy, a Paynim Knight and a Sarazin.
Sir Walter Raleigh: A contemporary and friend of Spencer’s.
Spencer: The author of Faerie Queen.
Sprites: Spirits, some of whom do the bidding of the Archimago.
Sans foy, or the Sarazin: The eldest of three brothers, protector to Fidessa.
The Lady Una: A beautiful royal woman whose land and fortunes have been destroyed by a dreadful fiend, and who has pressed the Knight into service to remedy the disaster.
The Faerie Queen is Edmund Spencer’s unfinished epic poem about Knights, chivalry and England that opens with a dedication to Queen Elizabeth, the English ruler at the time of his writing. In an introductory letter intended to avoid confusion about the subject matter and clarify references within the...
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Summary and Analysis: Book I, Cantos v-viii
A simple man: The disguised Archimago, who gives Satyrane and Una false information.
Ǽolus: The wind, father of Orgoglio.
Aescalpius: A fantastical healer who, though alive, has been consigned the darkest cave of hell for bringing the dead to life.
Diana or Cynthia: The virginal goddess of the hunt, who lives in the forests with an array of nymphs.
Earth: The mother of Orgoglio.
Hippolytus: A huntsman sent to hell because his father had him brought back from the dead.
Ignaro: Orgoglio’s stepfather, an ancient and blind man.
Jove: The king of the gods.
King of Babylon, King Croesus and Antiochus: Historical figures who are in hell as prisoners of Pride.
Merlin: A great sorcerer.
Night: The goddess of Night, who rides in an iron chariot across the sky.
Orgoglio: The son of Earth and wind, a giant who captures the Knight of the Red Cross.
Pluto: The Greek god of the underworld.
Satyrane: A half-man, half-satyr mix raised in the forest to feel no fear. Seven-headed Monster: The steed Orgoglio gives to Duessa.
Sylvanus: The lord of a troop of satyrs, fauns and nymphs.
The Prince, or the Knight: A good Knight who bears armor and shield crafted by the sorcerer Merlin and who is revealed to be Prince Arthur in Canto IX.
The Squire: Prince Arthur’s squire.
Troop of satyrs, fauns and nymphs: Minor characters, wood gods living together in the woods and satisfying their lustful urges.
Canto v: The Knight of the Red Cross spends the night mostly awake and burning with desire to redeem his honor from the lies of the Sarazin. In the morning, the two of them are plied with wine and spices to give them courage. They swear an oath to each other to obey the laws of arms of all Knights.
When Queen Lucifera emerges, the battleground is prepared and the winner’s laurels displayed. A trumpet begins the battle, and “with greedy force” the Knights begin to hammer at each other’s shields. The older, stouter Sarazin fights for blood and revenge, while the young, fierce Elfin Knight fights for praise and his good name. They fight so hard that sparks fly from their swords and shields. Their previously shining, glittering shields become stained red with blood, and the...
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Summary and Analysis: Book I, Cantos ix-xii
Charissa: Dame Celia’s daughter, who is pregnant.
Contemplation: A man who fasts and prays to lower the effects of his body upon his spirit, and who gives Redcross much information.
Dame Caelia: Runs a holy house for rejuvenation with her three daughters.
Despair: A demon that removes all hope from men.
Dragon: A fearsome creature devastating Una’s land.
Fidelia and Speranza: Dame Celia’s virginal daughters.
King: The lord of the land the dragon was decimating and father to Una.
Mercy: The leader of an order of goodly Protestants who give aid and succor to those who need it.
Messenger: A minion who turns out to be the Archimago.
Obedience: A squire in Dame Caelia’s house.
People: The people of the Kingdom of the King and Queen.
Queen: The King’s wife and Una’s mother.
Seven Men: Each has a charge from Mercy to dole out various kinds of support and help.
Sir Terwin: A Knight who was in love with a Lady who liked to see him in the throes of anguish.
The Porter, Zele: A minor character at the house.
The Trevisan: The fearful Knight, fleeing from something terrible and a once-companion of Sir Terwin.
Timon: The foster-father of the Prince who has freed the Redcross Knight.
Canto ix: Una pleads with the Prince to tell his name so that he can forever be honored in story and lore for his success in defeating the Giant and Duessa, and for freeing the Redcross Knight. However, the Prince announces that this he cannot do, as he does not know his lineage. The Prince reveals that he was raised by a foster father, a Faerie Knight (like the Redcross Knight) named Timon who taught him martial arts and virtuous lore. The great sorcerer Merlin visited often to oversee his tutoring, but although Merlin confirmed that Arthur was a Prince he would not reveal the brave young man’s lineage.
Lady Una questions why Merlin would send him on adventures in Faerie land, and the Prince replies, “Full hard it is to read aright / The course of heavenly cause, or understand / The secret meaning of th’eternal might, / That rules mens wayes, and rules the thoughts of living wight.”
This discussion of fate and God is similar to Una’s discourse when she thought the...
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Summary and Analysis: Book II, Cantos i-vi
Book II: “The Legend of Sir Gvyon, or Of Temperavnce”
A Palmer: An old man traveling with Sir Guyon (a “palmer” is a pilgrim).
Atin: A squire and messenger who announces Pyrochles’ arrival.
Belphoebe: A beautiful woman, possibly a goddess, who amazes Braggadoccio.
Braggadoccio: A braggart who uses Sir Guyon’s horse to pretend to be a Knight.
Claribell: The Lady of the Squire, a chaste and noble woman.
Crying Woman: Although claiming she has been raped, the woman is really Duessa.
Cymochles: Pyrochles’ brother, whose loves the sorceress Acrasia.
Dan Faunus: A rude and rustic character who pursues a Nymph with lewd intentions.
Elissa: The oldest sister in the castle, loved by sir Huddibrus.
Furor: A violent madman.
Infant: Son of suicidal woman and Sir Mordant, orphaned.
Medina: The middle sister in a castle divided by three sisters, also the nicest and most virtuous.
Miser: One of Archimago’s disguises.
Occasion: A hag, the mother of Furor.
Perissa: The cruel and conniving youngest sister with Sans loy in her service.
Phedon: A young squire being tortured by Furor.
Philemon: The deceitful friend of the Squire.
Phoedria: A beautiful but vain young woman who serves Acrasia and rows on the Idle Lake.
Pyrene: Claribell’s handmaiden.
Pyrochles: A descendent of gods, an undefeated and powerful Knight until he meets Guyon.
Sir Guyon: A good Elfin Knight, the hero of Book II.
Sir Huddibras: In service to the oldest sister, a strong and lucky but stupid Knight.
Sir Mordant: A good Knight who met the Sorceress Acrasia.
Sorceress Acrasia: A vile enchantress who lives on a Wandering Island.
Suicidal Woman: Sir Mordant’s wife and mother of his child.
Trompart: A fool pressed into service by Braggadoccio.
Proem: The author opens Book II discussing where Faerie land is and how to find it. He discusses the lands that have been discovered recently like Peru and the Amazon River and Virginia. With these examples, he argues that it is impossible to claim that only things that can be seen actually exist, for who had seen Virginia before it was...
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Summary and Analysis: Book II, Cantos vii-xii
Alma: A good virgin who is Lady of a castle beset by villains.
Boatman or Ferryman: The man who guides Guyon’s boat as he seeks Acrasia.
Brutus: A royal descendent who cleared Britain of giants and became King.
Bunduca: A female martyr who rose up against the Roman rule but whose forces were decimated and so she killed herself.
Caesar: An Emperor who took over much of Europe and attacked Britain.
Fiend: The guardian of riches, who stalks visitors in hopes he can kill them when they touch or steal an item of wealth.
Giants: Enormous, strong creatures that destroyed the land that was to become Britain until Brutus arrived.
Impotence and Impatience: Two hags in attendance on Maleger.
Lady Estrilde: A woman who King Brutus has an affair with.
Maleger: The captain of the villainous band attacking the castle of Temperance.
Mammon: A false God of wealth and riches.
Maximinius: A Roman ruler of Britain who inherited a weakened country with too few battle-ready men, and it was during his rule that the Pagans overran Britain.
Pagans: Any type of non-Christian, particularly those who believe in polytheistic religions.
Philotime: Mammon’s daughter and holder of the Chain of Ambition.
Picts: Scottish men.
Prays-Desire: A sad Lady who seeks honor and fame and who Prince Arthur finds fascinating.
Prometheus: A legendary Greek figure who supposedly created man and stole heavenly fire to give his creation life.
Sabrina: The first female ruler of Britain, daughter of the slain Brutus. Shame, Care, Horror, Fear, Fraud, etc: The personifications of negative emotions that guard or warn off visitors to hell and the place of riches.
Shamefastnesse: A woman who represents shame as a binding force holding people in patterns of good behavior, and who fascinates Guyon.
Tantalus and Pilate: Seekers of the golden apple, trapped in the black waters of Cocytus.
Canto vii: Although Guyon has lost the Palmer, his guide, he continues to travel on the far side of the Idle Lake. He traverses a barren desert, and when he sees a shady glade he decides to rest there. Under the trees he finds a filthy man surrounded by gold and riches. Upon seeing Guyon, the man pours his gold...
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Summary and Analysis: Book III, Prologue-Canto vi
Book III: “The Legend of Britomartis, or Of Chastitie”
Adonis: The lost lover of Venus, who in legend died in a boar hunt but was restored to Venus for a part of each year.
Amoretta: Belphoebe’s twin, who was raised by Venus.
Britomart: The heroine of Book III, a chaste but fierce woman disguised as a male Knight to seek her love.
Chrysogonee: A Faerie and the mother of Belphoebe and Amoretta.
Cupid: The winged god who causes mortals to fall in love with each other.
Cymoent: Marinell’s mother, a protective and loving guardian although she is also a goddess and lives in the sea.
Dwarf: A servant of Florimell, seeking her in the forest.
Florimell: A beautiful woman chased by a lustful man.
Glauce or the Nurse: An older woman who looked after the young Britomart.
King Ryence: A friend of Merlin’s and Britomart’s father.
Liagore: A nymph with skill at doctoring.
Louts: Six men who worship Malecasta.
Lustful Man: Chasing Florimell.
Malecasta: A beautiful, false, lustful woman who rules a castle.
Marinell: A haughty and wealthy Knight who obeys his goddess mother’s instructions to never become close to women because of a prophecy.
Neptune: The god of the sea and Marinell’s uncle, who has given him the wealth that has fallen to the bottom of the sea.
Pleasure: The child of Cupid and Psyche.
Psyche: The mortal married to Cupid.
Scudamore: A Faerie Knight and the husband of Amoretta.
Tryphon: A god famed for his ability to doctor.
Two Brothers: The ungracious and cowardly brothers of the lout who chased Florimell.
Venus: The legendarily beautiful goddess of love and the mother of Cupid.
Prologue: The third Book of the Faerie Queen tells of the legend of Britomart, with the sub-heading “Of Chastity.” Spencer’s prologue first acknowledges the foolishness of inventing a story to demonstrate this virtue when it is already enshrined in his sovereign’s breast. He then continues by saying that the very perfection of Queen Elizabeth means that no author, no poet, could possibly convey it as well as a living example. Therefore, Spencer chooses to write about the mythical...
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Summary and Analysis: Book III, Cantos vii-xii
Argante: A giantess who is infected with lust.
Busirane: A vile wizard who tries to win Amoretta’s consent with torture and fear.
Hellenore: The young and carefree wife of Malbecco.
Malbecco: An elderly miser with a young and beautiful wife he keeps imprisoned out of (unfounded) jealousy.
Monster: A vile thing resembling a hyena, called up by the witch because it feeds on women’s flesh.
Ollyphant: A giant, the twin brother of Argante and also a slave to lust.
Palladine: A female Knight, chaste and brave.
Paridell: A Faerie Knight sent out to search for Florimell.
Paris: The Trojan whose love for Helen, the most beautiful woman in Greece, started the Trojan War.
Porter: The man who answers calls at the gate.
Proteus: A god of the sea with icy breast and beard.
Son: The witch’s son, who is also wicked.
Squire of Dames: A man on a hopeless mission for the Lady he loves.
The false Florimell: A fake woman animated by spirits and created by the witch.
The old fisherman: A fisherman asleep in his boat near shore.
Witch: A wicked woman who lives in a desolate valley far from other people.
Canto vii: Florimell continues to flee, although she has escaped danger. Her horse guides her deep into the woods until he is exhausted and lies down. Florimell climbs off her horse and flees on foot. Finally, she spies a valley with a single, small house. Hungry and tired, she stops there.
The cottage belongs to a witch who works magic on distant people who have offended her. When Florimell enters and startles her, the witch turns her fear to anger and accuses Florimell of being guided by the devil. Used to those who respect and care for honorable Ladies, Florimell cries and appeals to the good sense of the witch and asks for a place to rest. Even the witch is touched by her beauty and simple honor and asks her to sit by the fire.
Florimell rests, and the witch’s son comes home. Amazed at the beautiful woman in his home, he asks his mother who this Lady is, but the witch gives no answer. At first, the son’s fear holds him in check. However, as time passes, lust begins to swell in him. He brings Florimell game from the forest and garlands of flowers, which she accepts out of fear...
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Summary and Analysis: Book IV, Proem-Canto vi
Agape: A Faerie with much knowledge of nature who has extended the lives of her three sons.
Ate: The mother of all discord, war, and debate.
Blandamour: A false and fickle Knight who accompanies Duessa.
Cambell: A good, true, and fierce Knight whose sister is Canacee.
Cambina: Triamond’s sister, a student of magic.
Canacee: Cambell’s wise and intelligent sister who refused to love any man, instead obeying the governance of her mind.
Care: A blacksmith who makes iron wedges of unquiet thoughts that invade peaceful minds.
Man in Castle: A man who lives in an area where if a man does not have a woman by nightfall, he is thrown outside the castle gates.
Triamond: A Knight who travels with Cambell and is one of Agape’s three sons.
Proem: Spencer defends himself against critics who say that vaunting love creates weakness in the young. He then rededicates his work to Queen Elizabeth, who is a perfect, chaste example of his principles.
Canto i: Spencer reveals that Amoretta was captured by Busirane (the enchanter in Book III) on her wedding day. Amoretta would rather die than lose her virginity to a man who was not her husband. Amoretta knows that according to tradition, she owed the Knight a debt for saving her; a woman saved by a Knight becomes his booty. Believing Britomart to be a man, Amoretta is afraid, though grateful. However, Britomart makes no advances upon Amoretta. One night, in a strange castle, Britomart fights to keep Amoretta from a man who claims her. After winning, Britomart discovers that the man will be cast out of the castle for not having a woman. Britomart claims him as her own, removes her helmet, and reveals that she is a woman. Amoretta therefore realizes she has nothing to fear, and the man is able to remain in the castle. This just solution to a thorny problem was entirely of Britomart’s devising.
Amoretta and Britomart travel together seeking the men they love. One day, they meet Duessa, the witch introduced in Book I. Duessa is accompanied by Ate, who is the mother of all discord; Blandamour, the fickle Knight; and Paridell, the lascivious, lying Knight from Book III. Blandamour attempts to fight Britomart, who injures him severely. When Blandamour then meets Scudamore (Amoretta’s husband from Book III), Blandamour is...
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Summary and Analysis: Book IV, Cantos vii-xii
Aemylia: A prisoner like Amoretta in the lustful beast’s cave.
Amyas: A Squire of low degree who loves Aemylia.
Corflambo: A monstrous pagan whose eyes shoot deadly beams of fire.
Dwarf: Amyas’ keeper when he was held by Poeana.
Lustful Beast: A strange, hairy creature that survives by capturing maidens, deflowering them, and then eating them.
Placidas: A Squire fleeing Corflambo with a Dwarf.
Poeana: Corflambo’s beautiful but wanton daughter.
Canto vii: When Britomart had fallen asleep in the forest, Amoretta had gone for a walk. A hairy beast swept down from the trees and snatched her. His ears stretched to his waist and blood stained his teeth. Thrown into a cave with another prisoner, Amoretta had begun a conversation to try and find out where she was and what her fate would be. The other captive told her that their captor deflowers and then consumes maidens. Including Amoretta, there are three trapped women, and seven have been consumed since the talkative prisoner, Aemylia, arrived.
When the lustful beast returns, Amoretta runs out of the opening he makes to enter the cave, but the lustful beast re-captures her. A Squire sees the beast capture Amoretta and goes to her defense, but the lustful beast uses the Lady as a shield, so that the spear lands on her instead of him. The Squire manages to land one strong stroke that disables the lustful beast, who throws Amoretta down to give chase to the Squire.
Belphoebe hears the battle and approaches. The lustful beast knows she is death for him, so he flees. Belphoebe gives chase. At the entrance to his cave, she kills him with an arrow. She frees Aemylia and returns with her to the Squire and Amoretta. The Squire injured Amoretta in only one place, while the lustful beast bruised her all over. Yet Belphoebe chastens the Squire severely and turns her back on him. Bereft, he follows until it is clear she will never forgive him. Then he enters the forest, breaks all of his warlike equipment, builds a cabin, and lives alone.
Prince Arthur travels through the forest one day and meets this now-gaunt hermit. He discovers that it is his own Squire, Timias. On every tree in the area is carved Belphoebe’s name, and the Squire cannot speak or respond to Prince Arthur, but only stares mutely.
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Summary and Analysis: Book V, Proem-Canto vi
Amidas: The younger, luckier brother betrothed to Lucy but who eloped with Philtra.
Astroeia: The woman who raised Artegall to know right from wrong and justice from injustice.
Bracidas: The unlucky but virtuous brother who fights with Amidas.
Clarinda: Radigund’s handmaiden and fellow woman warrior.
Dolon: A fallen Knight who hates Artegall because he killed Dolon’s son in a fair fight.
Grantorio: An evil giant.
Irena: A good woman who is oppressed by Grantorio.
Lucy: A poor girl with virtue who tries to kill herself and instead marries Bracidas.
Munera: Pollente’s Lady, who receives all the money he robs from others.
Philtra: A wealthy but greedy girl.
Pollente: A Sarazin taking a toll from any who wish to cross a particular bridge.
Radigund: An Amazon warrior woman who hates Knights and delights in their subjection.
Sir Sanglier: A Knight without honor.
Squire: A man who loves a Lady who is taken from him.
Talus: An iron man, unbending and inflexible but strong and unbreakable.
Terpine: A Knight caught by warlike women.
Proem: Spencer laments that the “golden” age is over and life is becoming more base and full of vice. He affirms that this Book’s purpose is to demonstrate Justice.
Canto i: A goodly dame named Irena makes her way to the Faerie Queen and complains of a tyrant named Grantorio keeping her from her heritage. The Faerie Queen calls upon Artegall to remedy this ill because he was trained by Astroeia in his youth to know the intricacies of justice. Artegall takes his Squire, Talus, who was left for Artegall by Astroeia. Talus is an iron man, “immoueable, resistlesse, without end.”
As they travel, Talus and Artegall meet a Squire crying beside a beheaded woman. The Squire tells the two travelers that as he and his love sat talking a stranger rode up beside them, threw down his own Lady, and picked up the Squire’s love. As the stranger rode away with the Squire’s Lady, his own Lady followed crying to be taken with him or killed. The stranger beheaded her. Artegall asks what direction this Knight went, and the Squire tells him and reveals that his shield was a bloody field with a broken sword. Talus speeds off after the man and overtakes...
(The entire section is 2402 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Book V, Cantos vii-xii
Adicia: Souldan’s wife, who eggs Souldan on in evil deeds.
Belge: An honorable mother of seventeen sons, twelve of whom have been killed by a tyrant.
Gerioneos Seneschall: A deformed tyrant with three bodies who worships his dead father, who was also similarly deformed.
Isis: An Egyptian nature goddess.
Malengin: A shape-shifting robber who lives in an underground labyrinth.
Paynim Knights: Two pagan Knights who chase Samient.
Queen Mercilla: The good and kind queen of the region.
Samient: A fleeing damsel who serves Queen Mercilla.
Souldan: A vile man who tries to kill Queen Mercilla and her people.
Canto vii: Britomart arrives at Isis’ temple and stays the night. Talus cannot enter, but Britomart is welcomed by the priests. Britomart admires the building and the idol of the goddess, prays, and sleeps by the altar. In the night, she has a vision of herself arrayed in robes and jewels while a storm threatens the temple, enlarging the holy flames to dangerous levels. Then, in the dream, Isis’s crocodile comes to life and threatens to eat Britomart, but Isis holds him back and the crocodile fawns before Britomart instead. Britomart then dreams she becomes pregnant and births a lion. In the morning, a priest asks what troubles her, and Britomart reveals her vision. The priest tells her that gods see through all disguises (such as Knightly armor) and that the crocodile is her own lover, Artegall.
Reassured by this interpretation, Britomart rides to Radigund. Because Radigund is afraid of Talus decimating her people, Radigund moves outside the city walls so as to prevent Talus from needing to enter. Britomart and Radigund fight fiercely and well, and Britomart does not hide her sex. When Radigund sees an advantage, she taunts Britomart by telling her to take her death to her lover as an offering. The wound made while Radigund taunts Britomart hinders Britomart from using her shield properly, but rage causes Britomart to smite Radigund through helmet and skull to her very brain. Still angry, Britomart beheads Radigund.
Talus enters the gate and holds it open for Britomart by killing townspeople. When Britomart realizes the carnage, she asks him to stay his hand, and Talus does so. Seeing Artegall dressed as a woman rends Britomart’s heart, but she...
(The entire section is 1951 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Book VI, Proem-Canto vi
Book VI: “The Legend of S. Calidore or, Of Covrtesie”
Aladine: The son of Aldus who is incautious enough to be seriously wounded while enjoying his Lady’s courtesies.
Aldus: An older, honorable, retired Knight who owns a castle, father of Aladine.
Blandina: A Lady who was with an unworthy Knight, Turpine.
Briana: A proud woman in love with Crudor.
Calepine: A Knight in love with Serena.
Calidore: A brave, courtly Knight who exemplifies courtesy.
Crudor: A self-absorbed Knight who demands Briana provide a garment made of hair and beards before he will yield to her love.
Despetto, Decetto and Defetto: Three enemies of Timias who send the Blatant Beast after him.
Maleffort: Briana’s henchman, who takes a toll of beards and hair.
Matilde: The childless wife of Sir Bruin.
Priscilla: The Lady of a Knight attacked without cause while dallying with her in the forest.
Savage Man: A good, deaf-mute, naked man protected by magic.
Serena: A Lady stolen by the Blatant Beast.
Sir Bruin: A warrior who defeated a giant and now rules the giant’s lands.
Squire: An unfortunate who informs Calidore about a region.
Tristam: A nobleman in exile who Calidore takes as his squire.
Turpine: An unkind Knight who dislikes and targets other Knights.
Proem: Although weary of writing, Spencer is so enamored with Faerie Land and finds such delight in it that he forgets his tiredness to write on. He calls Faerie Land “the sacred noursery / Of vertue,” a combination of heavenly and earthly delights. In that nursery, the fairest flower is that of courtesy, which is the subject of Book VI.
Canto I: Calidore is a Knight who lives in Court and exemplifies courtesy. He is well loved for his courtesy, but now travels on a “hard aduenture.” On the way, he meets Artegall, who explains his latest quest (see Book V). Calidore then tells his own quest, to kill the Blatant Beast who “is a Monster bred of hellishe race” and delights in tormenting Knights and Ladies. The description prompts Artegall to describe the beast accompanying the two hags whom he lately encountered, and Calidore confirms that this is the beast. Calidore hurries off in the direction Artegall...
(The entire section is 4643 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Book VI, Cantos vii-xii
Brigands: Lowly thieves who prey on shepherds or anyone else they can.
Claribell: Bellamour’s love, who bore him a child left for dead outdoors.
Colin: A shepherd and musician.
Coridon: The shepherd most in love with Pastorell.
Disdain: A giant who punishes Mirabella according to Cupid’s dictate.
Lord Bellamour: The goodly Knight to whose castle Calidore brings Pastorell.
Meliboe: Pastorell’s father, a good man who disdains money.
Mirabella: A hard-hearted but beautiful woman who lets many men die out of longing for her.
Pastorell: A beautiful maid honored by shepherds and maids alike.
Scorn: A fool who helps the giant punish Mirabella.
The Graces: Venus’s damsels, who dance and embody love.
Canto vii: Turpine pursues the Prince because he feels humiliated. Upon meeting two traveling Knights, Turpine lies and tells them the Prince did wrong to himself and his Lady. The Knights attack the Prince while Turpine waits. After killing one, the Prince forces the other to explain why they have attacked without provocation. The young Knight tells the Prince about the Knight who accused the Prince of bad deeds, and the Prince demands that he bring the accuser to him immediately.
The young Knight rides to Turpine, who is astonished by his severe wounds. Turpine rudely inquires where the captive Prince is, and the young Knight lies and tells him he will guide him to the Prince’s body. Turpine gladly follows. The prince has taken off his armor and lies on a grassy knoll, resting.
The savage man emerges from the forest and sees Turpine near the sleeping Prince. He uproots an oak to attack Turpine, remembering that the last time he saw Turpine, Turpine’s castle attacked him and the Prince. The noise wakes the Prince, who grabs his sword to defend himself from Turpine. The Prince leaps upon Turpine and knocks him over.
Spencer returns to the mourning Lady, riding an ass led by a fool and a villain. This Lady, Mirabella, was once a beautiful and good woman, but her beauty led others to admire and aid her, and she turned prideful and arrogant. She disdained all love and ignored suitors, preferring to follow her own whimsy than seek a love and companion. Many men died out of longing for Mirabella, and Cupid discovered...
(The entire section is 3665 words.)