The Faerie Queene

by Edmund Spenser

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Summary and Analysis: Book IV, Cantos vii-xii

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New Characters 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.

Summary 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.

Canto viii: The gentle Squire-turned-hermit befriends a turtledove that has recently lost her love. The bird sings to him, and Timias feeds the bird. One day, he puts a jewel he had given to Belphoebe around the bird’s neck, just to see it on a living being again. The bird immediately flies away, leaving Timias bereft. However, the bird flies to Belphoebe. Seeing her familiar jewel, Belphoebe tries to remove it from the bird’s breast. The bird hovers just out of reach and leads her back to the Squire.

When Belphoebe sees the Squire, she feels great pity for the wretch before her but does not realize who it is or that she caused his distress. When he speaks and tells her, she forgives him completely. Timias lives a happy life with her in the woods, attending to her.

After leaving the Squire, Prince Arthur wanders through the woods with his horse and meets Aemylia and Amoretta. Aemylia is weak with hunger, and Amoretta has not yet recovered from the battle wounds. Greatly pitying their situation, Prince Arthur gently puts them both atop his horse to lead them to somewhere where they might get care. Spencer pauses to praise the chaste, honest times of old, when...

(This entire section contains 1981 words.)

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men and women could travel together without any lustful advances. For Spencer, older times are more virtuous and innocent times.

However, dangers still existed. As Prince Arthur and the two women travel they see two men fleeing before a fierce man on a camel whose eyes sprout fiery beams that incinerate and kill at a distance. Prince Arthur takes the women off his horse, mounts, and attacks the monstrous man. After a great battle, Prince Arthur beheads him. The two who had been fleeing stand in awe of Prince Arthur’s prowess. They tell him that the man was Corflambo, who had taken over many cities simply because he was an unstoppable terror who could kill but not be killed.

Prince Arthur asks how they came to be chased by Corflambo. One is a Squire, Placidas, and he replies that he had a friend, Amyas, a Squire of lowly degree. This Squire of lowly degree loved a beautiful woman far above him in class, one Aemylia. Aemylia loved him back and swore to run away with Amyas from the father who would not let them marry. When Amyas went to meet Aemylia, however, he ran into Corflambo on the way and was thrown into the dungeon. Corflambo’s daughter Poeana visited one day and fell in love with Amyas. She told him she would free him if he loved her back, and as he saw no other way to escape that prison, he consented. The freedom she gave was less than complete, and Amyas was still held captive by a keeper, a Dwarf. The Dwarf is the storyteller’s other companion, who was also fleeing Corflambo. Placidas resembles the Squire of lowly degree so much that when the Dwarf met Placidas one day, he believed that Amyas had escaped his dungeon without anyone being aware of it, and had Placidas brought before Poeana. She immediately had Placidas thrown in prison and berated him, thinking he was Amyas, for taking her love so lightly.

Seeing his good friend Placidas also captive, Amyas despaired. However, Placidas had a plan. Amyas did not yield to Poeana because he loved Aemylia. Placidas had no Lady and so no such reservations. When Poeana called for Amyas, Placidas went in his stead and assented to her caresses. Delighted with her conquest, Poeana granted Placidas (thinking he was Amyas) more freedom to walk and roam, so long as the Dwarf attended him. On one such walk, Placidas seized the Dwarf and fled with him.

At this point, the women interrupt the story. Aemylia runs to Placidas, embraces him, and asks if Amyas still lives.

Canto ix: Spencer names the three kinds of love: affection, sexual, and friendship. He says that Amyas has true love because all three meet in his love of Aemylia.

Prince Arthur devises a plan to enter the castle and free Amyas. He ties Corflambo’s head to his body and then drapes Placidas over the saddle horn. Prince Arthur directs the Dwarf to guide the horse to the castle. Thinking Corflambo has captured the lowly Squire, the watch lets Prince Arthur in along with what they perceive as Corflambo. Prince Arthur captures Poeana and has the Dwarf free everyone in the prison. Amyas and Aemylia embrace while Poeana cries bitterly. However, Placidas marries Poeana and rules over all of her lands. They are happy together, and Poeana becomes faithful as a wife.

Prince Arthur departs with Amoretta. Amoretta still lives in fear, for until she is married she is simply a prize, a spoil to be won, and her chastity depends upon the victor who has her. With Prince Arthur, of course, Amoretta is safe. One day, they see six Knights fighting on a plain. Britomart and Scudamore hold off two unknown Knights as well as Blandamour and Paridell. The four fighting against Britomart and Scudamore represent the four least honorable kinds of love: love of single life; overwhelming and consuming love; fickle love (Blandamour); and constant lust (Paridell). The four had long been fighting over the false Florimell, who was not even present. When Britomart and Scudamore happened across the fight, the four Knights recalled the shame Britomart had caused them and turned upon her. Although it was four fighting two, Britomart and Scudamore are evenly matched against four lesser foes.

Seeing such an unfair fight, Prince Arthur divides them and tries to convince them of peace. Instead, all four dishonorable Knights fly at Prince Arthur. He is so fierce that eventually they calm and tell him that Britomart stole the praise, glory, and most beautiful woman from them at a tournament. Britomart defends herself. Scudamore relates that he seeks his love, and that he has for a long time. The Knights ask him to tell his story, and Scudamore acquiesces.

Canto x: Scudamore tells the story of how he won Amoretta. As a young Knight, adventuring for glory, he found Venus’ Temple. The only entrance was over a long bridge past twenty strong, valorous Knights. In the middle of a distant plain was a pillar with the shield of love, which bore the inscription: “Blessed the man that well can vse his blis; / Whose euer be the shield, faire Amoret be his.” Scudamore defeated the twenty Knights, seized the shield, and tried to enter the temple. Upon showing that he actually had the shield, he was admitted, although there were many attempts to delay him. At the next gate, a giant stood guard. Scudamore attacked, and the shield again gave him entrance.

On the temple grounds, a beautiful garden full of pleasant activities and blooming flowers awaited Scudamore. Heroes like Hercules showed the joy and “noble deeds” that result from chaste virtue instead of wanton love. Inside the temple building, altars attended by female priests surrounded the goddess Venus, who is attended by Womanhood, Cheerfulness, Modesty, Courtesy, Silence, and Obedience. Amoretta sat in Womanhood’s lap. The moment Scudamore saw her, his heart was hers. By showing the shield, Scudamore won the right to Amoretta. Together, they left the castle.

Canto xi: Proteus still holds Florimell captive, hoping to win her love by “crueltie and awe.” For seven months Florimell is trapped in darkness, surrounded by monsters that keep her from escape. All her suffering originates from her love of Marinell, who scorned her because of his mother’s advice (see Book III).

After being wounded by Britomart and doctored by his nymph mother, Marinell survives. His mother attends a water nymph wedding feast at Proteus’ lair. All the sea gods and water nymphs process into the lair, with great description of their mighty powers and life-giving waters.

Canto xii: At the wedding feast, Marinell waits for his nymph mother. He may not enter the feast because he is half mortal and so may not eat immortal food. Marinell wanders on the rocks outside Proteus’ lair and hears a woman’s voice bewailing her situation. She speaks of a stone-hearted captor and declares that “yet will I neuer of my love repent / but ioy that for his sake I suffer prisonment.” She then wails that Marinell should know that this is all for his sake.

Shocked and in awe of this woman who has suffered so much, Marinell begins to devise plans for setting her free. Each plan seems more foolish than the last. When the feast ends and the gods emerge, Marinell still has no plan. He returns with his mother, but no earthly pleasures satisfy him anymore—he will not eat or sleep. Eventually, he is confined to bed.

Marinell’s mother does not know about his love, so she returns to the doctor and demands that he heal her son. The doctor proclaims her son healthy and without wound. With the counsel of others, Marinell’s mother comes to the conclusion that Marinell suffers from lovesickness. She asks him who causes such pain, and she worries when she finds it is Florimell. Finally, she goes to the king of the sea, Neptune, and kneels before him. She asks that her son be saved by releasing Florimell. In order to stop the matter from becoming a war among gods, Neptune assents. Marinell’s mother brings Florimell to Marinell. Both are quickly infatuated with the other.


Summary and Analysis: Book IV, Proem-Canto vi


Summary and Analysis: Book V, Proem-Canto vi