The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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

Summary
Analysis
Talus, who could not be subdued by the Amazons, leaves to tell Britomart about the situation Arthegall is in. Britomart had been waiting for him for a while, sometimes blaming her own impatience, other times suspecting him of being untrue. When Talus finds Britomart, he doesn’t want to tell the bad news, but at last he tells her how Arthegall is being held prisoner by Radigund.
Just as Una rescued the Redcross Knight from Despair in Book I, Britomart will now have to rescue Arthegall from the clutches of Radigund. As a woman who uses her strength in keeping with the knightly code of conduct, Britomart makes the logical choice to go up against the rebel Radigund.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Britomart angrily assumes at first that Arthegall is wooing Radigund, but Talus assures her he’s in no state to do so. Convinced at last, Britomart rides off after Talus to go find her imprisoned love.
What the metal man Talus says and does is absolute, and so Britomart has no reason to doubt him when he says Arthegall has been faithful.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Soon after starting their journey, Britomart and Talus run into an old knight who offers them a place to stay for the night. Though Britomart has a single-minded focus on her goal, she sees night is at hand, and so follows the knight back to his home. She keeps her armor on, fearing possible treachery, and Talus keeps watch all night.
Britomart has already been betrayed once before by accepting hospitality (by Malecasta, the Lady of Delight), and so her decision to leave her armor on suggests that she is keeping her guard up.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Sure enough, Britomart is betrayed by the old knight, and two other rude knights come in the middle of the night looking for a fight. Talus, however, fends them off. It turns out the old knight is Dolon, a wicked knight who likes to bring noble knights into his house and then shame them. Dolon has three sons, and as it turns out, his oldest son was slain by Arthegall—Dolon believes that Britomart is Arthegall (since she hasn’t taken off her armor).
Dolon seems to be a less threatening and less successful version of Radigund—they both hope to bring noble knights down into a state of shame. Rather than improving themselves, evil characters in the story often prefer to drag others down to their own level.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
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Britomart wakes up ready to get her own vengeance on Dolon for tricking her, but he’s nowhere to be found. She and Talus leave, coming to the bridge where Arthegall fought and killed Pollente. Two pagan knights challenge her, but she kills them both.
Britomart and Talus easily make it through Dolon and the pagan knights, who are only minor opponents compared to the mightier Radigund.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon