The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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The Faerie Queene: Book III: Canto IX Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator promises that he’ll finally explain why Paridell and Sir Satyrane aren’t being allowed into the castle. The owner of the castle is Malbecco, and his wife is Hellenore. Malbecco is a withered old man who hoards wealth that he’s stolen. He is afraid that if he lets his gates open, his younger wife Hellenore will leave him. Paridell says the man must be insane to trap himself inside, but Satyrane suggests they try to reason with him.
Refusing hospitality for knights is a sign of bad manners and of disrespect for chivalry. It soon becomes clear that Malbecco is in fact an uncourteous man, too afraid of losing his own money or his wife to worry about the condition of others.
Themes
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Sir Satyrane tries knocking on the castle door, but he’s refused. As a storm comes, they take shelter in a little shed nearby where many others are also taking shelter. Another knight comes by and knocks and is also refused. He also tries to go to the shed, but it’s full, and the new knight gets angry. Paridell and the new knight start a fight, but Satyrane breaks them up after Paridell is knocked over. They agree they have a common foe in Malbecco.
Paridell’s ability to get drawn into a petty fight suggests that perhaps he is not a knight of the same caliber as Sir Satyrane, who breaks the fight up and acts as the voice of reason by directing everyone toward their real enemy.
Themes
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Sensing the knights plotting against him, Malbecco reluctantly agrees to let them inside and blames his servants for bad courtesy. When the knights make it inside and start taking off their armor, Sir Satyrane and Paridell realize that the stranger knight is a woman with blond hair—Britomart. They are amazed at the sight of her.
Malbecco’s inability to take blame for his own faults is yet another sign of his weak character. In the end, he doesn’t invite the knights in out of sympathy but out of fear that they’re plotting against him.
Themes
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At dinner, Malbecco makes excuses about why his lady Hellenore can’t come to dinner, but eventually he runs out of them, and she comes to join them. At the table, Malbecco keeps a jealous watch over his guests, but he can’t see Paridell, who has locked eyes with Hellenore. Both of them are silently filled with lust.
In the case of his wife Hellenore, Malbecco was perhaps right to worry about someone taking her away. It doesn’t mean, however, that he was right to keep knights out of his castle—in some ways, it seems to be his own fault for picking an unfaithful wife.
Themes
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Deception and Lies Theme Icon
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After dinner, Hellenore suggests that such brave knights should tell a story about their deeds. Paridell agrees and begins telling the story of the Trojan War. Britomart is moved by the part of the story where Troy is destroyed, because she’s British and the Britons are supposedly the descendants of the Trojans.
The Trojan war began when Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, was taken away from her Greek husband by the Trojans and is most famously told in the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. The similarity of the names Helen and Hellenore is intentional.
Themes
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Deception and Lies Theme Icon
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Britomart picks up the story and begins telling about Aeneas, a Trojan whose adventures after the war were chronicled in an epic poem called the Aeneid. Aeneas settled the area of Latium, which is eventually where Romulus would found the city of Rome. She speaks of the Roman empire as a second Troy, then says that a third Troy will one day rise, perhaps on the banks of the Thames (where London is located).
Brutus, the mythical founder of Britain whom Arthur read about in Book II, was a descendant of Aeneas, and so through him, British people like Britomart have their own connection to Aeneas.
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Paridell interrupts to take over the story again. He confirms how Britain is also related to Troy through the lineage of the Trojan Brutus who, after fleeing Troy for Britain, defeated the giants there.
The giants that existed in ancient Britain represent ignorance and paganism that had to be eradicated.
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While Paridell is telling the story, Hellenore listens to every word and watches his lips. After the stories, the knights begin talking about various other subjects, and eventually Malbecco decides it’s time to go to bed.
The end of this canto foreshadows that something is about to happen between Paridell and Hellenore.
Themes
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Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon