The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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

Summary
Analysis
After helping the wounded knight back to the castle, Calidore meets Aldus, an old man who used to be strong in his younger days and who is the father of the wounded knight (whose name is revealed as Aladine). Though Aldus has reason to grieve because his son is injured, he tries to be cheerful for his guest.
Aldus demonstrates that he is a good person and that his son Aldus is worthy of being helped by offering his own hospitality to Calidore as a thank-you for what the knight has already done.
Themes
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The lady, whose name is Priscilla, keeps grieving. She fell in love with Aladine, who was of lower birth than her but who had proved himself valiantly as a knight. Priscilla won’t go to bed, wanting to watch over wounded Aladine all night.
Aladine is a rare example in the poem of someone of lower birth who proved himself to be worth more than his birth status. This suggests that, to some extent, a knight’s reputation can even take precedence over their social class.
Themes
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Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Aladine wakes up and is dismayed to see how much his injury is upsetting Priscilla. When Calidore visits them later, Aladine seems to be doing better. In order to help ease everyone’s grief, Calidore goes back to the corpse of the evil knight, chops off the head, and brings it back with him. Everyone is happy to see it. After spending a little while longer there, Calidore rides off to continue his journey.
Typically in the poem when emotions impact physical states, the emotion in question is love. In this case, however, a sickness caused by grief is cured by the sight of a severed head. The dead knight’s head reassures Aladine that chivalry will prevail and that unjust knights will get their punishment, perhaps helping him get the motivation to recover.
Themes
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British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
As Calidore is riding, he sees a knight called Sir Calepine in the shade with his lady, Serena. They are both ashamed when they see Calidore coming toward them. While they’re talking, Serena wanders off to pick flowers and is suddenly taken by the Blatant Beast. The knights chase after the beast, which decides it doesn’t want to fight Calidore, and so it drops Serena to get away.
Sir Calepine and Serena are ashamed because they know Sir Calidore has seen them and they believe he thinks they were doing something improper. While it’s possible that they were doing something improper, the presence of the Blatant Beast (which slanders good knights and ladies with false accusations) suggests that Calepine and Serena really might have been doing something innocent.
Themes
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Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
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Sir Calepine is dismayed to see that Serena has bloody wounds from the beast. He puts Serena on his horse so that they can take her to get help. They travel until they come to a river that isn’t crossable on foot. A knight (Sir Turpine, but not the Sir Turpine killed by Radigund) and lady (Blandina) also come to the river. Calepine asks for their help in carrying Serena across, but the knight refuses. The knight’s lady doesn’t approve of her knight’s behavior, finding it discourteous.
The wounds that Serena receives from the beast are a metaphor for the wound her reputation would take if (false?) news spread that she was doing something improper with Sir Calepine. It’s also a very physical wound that’s endangering her health, however, which is why the rude knight’s refusal to help is particularly impolite and heartless.
Themes
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Deception and Lies Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Sir Calepine decides to try carrying Serena out into the river, using his spear as a walking stick. The discourteous knight on the riverbank laughs at Calepine’s attempts, so Calepine gets angry and challenges the knight to a duel. Eventually, Calepine makes his way across the river and gets Serena to a castle.
The river represents all the adversity Sir Calepine will overcome to try to protect Serena. The rude knight who laughs at him seems to also be laughing at the very concept of chivalry and knightly hospitality.
Themes
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The Role of Women Theme Icon
The porter at the castle door is also rude and refuses to let Sir Calepine and Serena inside. The porter replies that the lord of the castle, Sir Turpine, only lets into the castle knights that he has fought with. Turpine is stern and macho, challenging every knight he meets. When the porter tells Turpine about Calepine and Serena’s plight, Turpine still refuses to let them in, even after Blandina pleads with them. With nowhere else to go, Calepine takes Serena to a bush to sleep.
Sir Calepine and Serena’s bad luck continues. The courteous Sir Calidore offers to help people by the side of the road, but the stingy Sir Turpine won’t help people even when they show up knocking on his doorstep—the two knights have totally opposite personalities.
Themes
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Love and Friendship Theme Icon
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The next day, Serena looks feeble, and Sir Calepine is concerned. Calepine is angry and wants revenge, but for Serena’s sake, he rides on in search of help. As he rides, he sees a knight who looks like he might want to take advantage of Calepine’s situation. Calepine realizes it’s the rude knight who wouldn’t help him by the river or let them stay in his castle: Sir Turpine.
Sir Calepine shows good judgment as a knight, putting the health of his lady over his own desire for revenge. Sir Turpine, on the other hand, shows a total lack of empathy, simply doing as he pleases for his own amusement.
Themes
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While Calepine is angry with Sir Turpine, he doesn’t want to fight because he needs to help Serena. But the rude knight isn’t satisfied, chasing after Calepine and leaving a severe wound on his shoulder, then continuing to follow him even after that.
Sir Turpine’s attack on an unwilling opponent shows his extreme cowardice. Even when openly provoked, Sir Calepine prioritizes Serena’s health.
Themes
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Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon