The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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

Summary
Analysis
After leaving Care’s workshop, Scudamore feels melancholy as he rides the next day. He happens to run into another knight and they almost fight, but the other knight apologizes and asks for Scudamore’s pardon. He says he’s called the Savage Knight (which was a nickname of Arthegall during the tournament in Canto IV).
Scudamore’s chance meeting with Arthegall lays the groundwork for how Arthegall will eventually meet up with Britomart and learn her true identity. Arthegall’s reputation as the Savage Knight may seem odd for someone heroic, but it’s appropriate, since much of Book V involves Arthegall dealing out a very harsh version of justice.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Arthegall talks about being defeated in a tournament recently by a knight with an enchanted spear, and Scudamore realizes that knight must be Britomart. Arthegall and Scudamore realize they have a common enemy and both vow revenge.
This scene is ironic because while Arthegall and Scudamore both have reasons to believe Britomart is their enemy, in fact, she will be an ally to both of them.
Themes
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British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Arthegall and Scudamore ride and eventually come across Britomart. Scudamore charges her first but gets knocked down off his horse. Seeing this only motivates Arthegall to try harder, but he too is shocked to be knocked off his horse. From the ground, he manages to strike the back of Britomart’s horse, causing her to dismount, too.
Britomart once again proves her strength in battle. Scudamore in particular acts recklessly due to his passion for Amoretta, and so he is the easier one to dispatch.
Themes
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British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Britomart is equally strong with just her sword, pushing Arthegall back and wounding him. The two continue to go back and forth, not realizing each other’s identities. Finally, Arthegall works up the strength to deliver what he believes will be a fatal blow. The blow doesn’t harm her, but it knocks her helmet off, and for the first time, Arthegall sees her fair face.
Britomart’s prowess with her sword confirms that she wasn’t just winning fights because of her enchanted lance. Arthegall is also strong, though—fittingly, the two characters who will eventually be matched in love seem to also be matched in battle.
Themes
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British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
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All of a sudden Arthegall feels his desire for vengeance leave him, and it’s like he’s paralyzed. He drops his sword and goes down on his knees before Britomart. Britomart is still angry from being struck and commands Arthegall to either rise and fight or be killed. But Arthegall just asks for pardon and says she can do what she likes.
The big reveal of Britomart’s identity causes a total change in Arthegall’s manner toward her. As Arthegall still has his own helmet on, Britomart doesn’t know yet that he’s the man she saw in Merlin’s mirror.
Themes
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British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Scudamore sees Britomart’s true identity and is also amazed. Glauce is happy to see a break in the fighting and asks Arthegall and Scudamore to reveal themselves to Britomart. They do so, and Britomart is surprised to realize she has seen Arthegall’s face before in Merlin’s mirror. She also drops her weapon.
The sudden stop to the fight between Arthegall and Britomart suggests that many fights are based on misunderstandings, and when people see the truth, they are less likely to want to fight.
Themes
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British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Scudamore says that he’s glad to see Arthegall doesn’t scorn all women. At hearing Arthegall’s name, Britomart is now so amazed that she goes into a fit. Glauce explains to Arthegall that while Britomart has conquered land and sea, she is chaste and won’t rebel against love. Glauce asks both Arthegall and Britomart to put aside their anger for the sake of love.
Despite being a powerful warrior, even Britomart has her weaknesses, and the fits she experiences in this passage are similar to the fainting spells Una had in book I. Even with all her strength, she remains committed to the idea of chaste love.
Themes
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Britomart and Arthegall agree not to fight and begin to feel passion for each other. Meanwhile, Scudamore is still worried about his Amoretta, so he asks Britomart if she has any news. Britomart says she isn’t sure; after saving Amoretta from Duessa, and traveling with her for a while, one day Britomart woke up and Amoretta wasn’t there.
The happy reunion of Britomart and Arthegall contrasts with Scudamore’s distress upon learning that Amoretta isn’t with Britomart anymore. Just as one story seems to end happily, another one still hangs in the balance.
Themes
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Scudamore is disappointed and scared to hear of Amoretta’s disappearance. Britomart promises to help him find her and to enact vengeance on whoever took her away, which cheers Scudamore up a little. Arthegall leads them all to a castle where they can tend their wounds and rest.
Britomart’s loyalty to helping Scudamore, even after she has completed her own main quest as a knight, shows the depth of her devotion to chivalry and cooperation with other knights.
Themes
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During their time recovering, Arthegall begins to woo Britomart. He makes promises to be faithful, and she confesses that she also loves him. They make plans to marry, but first Arthegall must finish a quest that he’s already committed to. Britomart is sad but lets him go. Eventually, she, Scudamore, and Glauce head back to the forest where Britomart last saw Amoretta when she fell asleep.
Arthegall’s devotion to his quest, even above Britomart, recalls how in Book I, the Redcross Knight had to make a similar decision to temporarily leave Una. Although true love is one of a knight’s highest purposes, it seems that duty is even more important.
Themes
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