The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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

Summary
Analysis
The narrator praises friendship, which, though different from love, is similar and virtuous in its own way. Arthur decides that he wants to help Placidas help his good friend Amyas, who is still imprisoned with Poeana. They take Corflambo’s lifeless body and stick it back on the camel, then put his head back on top to use as a decoy, then they force the dwarf to help lead them back.
The loyalty and friendship that Placidas shows to Amyas ends up being contagious and convinces Arthur to get involved, too. This section shows how virtuous behavior in one person can create an example that inspires others.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
They make it to the prison where Poeana is singing so sweetly about her sorrow that at first Arthur is captivated before he comes to his senses. Arthur sneaks up and captures her. At first, Poeana sees Placidas and thinks he’ll save her, but she soon realizes she’s been betrayed.
Poeana is described more sympathetically than some of the other tricky female characters in the story—even Arthur is temporarily enchanted by her.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Finally, Amyas is let out of prison, and both Placidas and Aemylia run to greet him. Arthur then leads them as they ransack Poeana’s castle, which turns out to be full of hoarded treasure. Arthur eventually frees Poeana, but she can no longer take pleasure in her castle’s remaining riches, having lost both her father (Corflambo) and her lover (Amyas, though she mistook Placidas for him).
Although it might not seem noble for knights like Arthur to ransack a castle, Corflambo seems to have gotten his wealth through stealing and greed. Poeana’s lack of interest in material things is the start of a redemption story for her.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Arthur speaks to Poeana and convinces her to put aside her proud and lusty ways. He then asks Placidas to overlook Poeana’s past sins. They end up married and live together in peace in Corflambo’s old castle.
While it might seem surprising that Poeana gets redeemed, particularly since other evil characters often face harsh justice, Poeana was always slightly more sympathetic than other evil characters, and occasionally forgiveness becomes more important in the poem than justice.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
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Arthur rides on with Amoretta. Eventually, they cross paths with a troop of six riders: false Florimell, Braggadochio, a knight named Druon who loves being a bachelor, Claribell, Blandamour, and Paridell. The four knights in the group are brawling over false Florimell. Near these knights, Britomart and Scudamore are watching the scene unfold.
Fickle knights like Braggadochio, Blandamour, and Paridell seem to be stuck in a cycle, fighting again over false Florimell. They illustrate how sin can be a trap that prevents people from ever being satisfied with what they have.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
The fight goes back and forth, with Paridell sometimes siding with Blandamour, other times siding with Druon. But when the knights notice Britomart, who embarrassed them all at the recent tournament, they all turn against her and Scudamour. As they attack, they ignore Britomart’s attempts to reason with them.
Paridell’s constant switching sides is humorous and once again confirms that he is the ficklest out of all the knights. The cowardly knights are only willing to face Britomart because they have her outnumbered.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Seeing that it’s not a fair fight, Arthur joins on Britomart’s side. The other knights are so angry that they start attacking Arthur, too, but he is fresh and ready to fight. They explain to Arthur how Britomart foiled them in the tournament, but Arthur says they are bringing shame to knighthood by their rash actions.
Arthur often acts as a judge character in the story, much like the similarly named Arthegall, who embodies the virtue of justice in Book V. Although Arthur isn’t familiar with the situation, he can instantly see that Britomart is on the virtuous side of the argument.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Britomart says she has lost her former love, a gentle maid (meaning Amoretta), and Scudamore regrets Amoretta’s loss even more. (Though Amoretta was with Arthur, she’s not at the scene of the battle.) Claribell asks Scudamore to tell the story of his love for Amoretta, and though he initially hesitates to do so because it’ll be painful, Britomart encourages him, and so he starts.
Some elements of the poem are unclear, such as why Amoretta wouldn’t be with Arthur here. Other important actions happen “off the page,” such as when Braggadochio steals Sir Guyon’s horse. While it is possible that some of these elements are oversights or continuity errors, such events that happen “outside” the poem also help contribute to its epic scope.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon