The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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

Summary
Analysis
Still searching for the woman who ran off, Arthur wanders through a forest before he finally comes out and meets a dwarf. The dwarf is frantic and out of breath. He says that he’s searching for a woman riding on a white horse, whom Arthur recognizes as the same woman he’s looking for himself. The dwarf explains that this woman is a fair virgin named Florimell.
Florimell’s name immediately suggests a connection to Marinell. The two names are similar but also diametrically opposed, with Florimell’s name suggesting flowers (“flora”) and Marinell’s name suggesting the sea (“marine”).
Themes
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Florimell, according to the dwarf, is in love with the knight Marinell, but news has just come that Marinell has potentially been slain (he hasn’t, although Britomart did badly injure him). When she heard this, Florimell immediately went off to the Faerie Queene’s Faerie Court to try to find out if Marinell is okay and help him. Since the dwarf and Arthur are looking for the same person, they agree to go together.
The figure of the Faerie Queene again connects separate, seemingly distinct parts of the story. Here she represents a source of help that Florimell turns to in her time of need. The Faerie Queene represents different things to different characters, embodying duty for the Redcross Knight, a savior for Florimell, and the end of the journey for Arthur.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Protestantism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Arthur’s squire Timias has been busy defeating the lustful foster who was chasing Florimell earlier. The foster flees Timias because he’s a coward, but as soon as he’s away, he starts spreading lies about Timias to try to spur anger against him. The foster’s two brothers are indeed angered and vow revenge on Timias.
Timias as Arthur’s squire seems to have been invented or at least popularized by The Faerie Queene, since the character doesn’t appear in most other versions of the Arthurian legend.
Themes
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British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
The foster and his brothers sneak up on Timias and try to attack him, but their initial strike doesn’t injure him much. A fierce battle ensues. Timias suffers a serious wound to his left thigh, but he kills the brother who injured him, then proceeds to split the head of the foster clean in half, killing him, too. The last remaining brother fearfully tries shooting an arrow at Timias, but Timias just lops his head off.
Timias may not be as fearsome a warrior as his mentor, Arthur, but he nevertheless fights well, suggesting that he’s brave, even in the face of injury.
Themes
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Timias takes little joy in his victory because his thigh wound is still bleeding heavily. He passes out. Fortunately for Timias, he is found by the huntress Belphoebe, who recently won her battle with Braggadochio and has been pursuing a wild beast through the woods. She sees the wounded squire and can tell that he’s noble. She goes to look for herbs to help him.
The character of Belphoebe also helps to connect seemingly disconnected threads in the story, linking the stories of Braggadochio (who stole Sir Guyon’s horse) to Arthur’s squire, Timias.
Themes
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Love and Friendship Theme Icon
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Timias awakes and is amazed to find that Belphoebe has dressed his wounds. He praises her, saying she’s like an angel, causing her to blush. Belphoebe’s damsels, who assist her in hunting, arrive at the scene, and together, they all go back to the pleasant glade where Belphoebe lives.
Belphoebe is a fair virgin, but since here Timias is respectful in his praise, she doesn’t condemn him for his attentions. Her hunting damsels recall the nymphs of the Greek goddess Diana, who is a figure with many similarities to Belphoebe. 
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Unintentionally, however, Belphoebe has only healed one wound to create another, patching up Timias’s body but causing his heart to fall in love with her. He worries that as a lowly squire, he isn’t good enough for her. Belphoebe sees Timias’s unease and thinks perhaps he has been poisoned. She continues to exhibit exemplary care for Timias, and the narrator also praises her chastity.
Timias’s painful physical wound from love recalls the similar love-wound that motivated Britomart to become a knight and seek out Arthegall. Despite the pain of a love-wound, the story suggests that such a wound is normal and perhaps even healthy.
Themes
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Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon