The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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

Summary
Analysis
Calepine and Serena’s fortune has been like the fortune of a sailor caught at sea and tossed on the waves. Just as they’re in trouble, however, a “savage” man who, up until that point in his life, had never shown pity before, sees Sir Turpine’s cruel assault and tries to intervene. Though the man doesn’t have armor or weapons, he is invulnerable due to magic.
The “savage man” introduced in this section is very different from the cannibal carle who nearly ate Amoretta in Book IIII. While his character is also clearly the product of British stereotypes about foreigners, he is a much more sympathetic character than the carle.
Themes
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The savage man fights up close with Sir Turpine, gaining the advantage and causing him to flee. Though the savage man is fast on foot, he can’t keep up with Turpine’s horse.
Sir Turpine is so rude that even a “savage man” from the forest has a better understanding of courtesy than he does.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
The savage man comes back to Sir Calepine and Serena. He can’t talk but uses gestures to indicate that he wants to help. He then brings them to safety and helps staunch their wounds. He’s mostly successful at healing their outward wounds, but Serena still has an inward wound that herbs and salves can’t heal.
The “savage man” has a connection to the forest that allows him to find healing herbs that others can’t, although even this isn’t enough to make Serena better.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
British Identity and Nationalism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
When Sir Calepine gets back his strength, he goes out wandering in the woods without his weapon or armor, and he sees a bear carrying a crying infant in its mouth. Calepine chases after the bear, and even without a weapon, he’s able to snatch the baby away. This, however, angers the bear, which charges at him.
While Sir Calepine remains devoted to helping Serena, he nevertheless is still ready to help other innocents in need, like the baby being kidnapped by a bear.
Themes
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Sir Calepine stays strong as the bear tries to attack him. He shoves a stone down its throat, then chokes the bear while it’s weakened. The bear stops struggling, so Calepine takes the baby and heads off. He soon realizes, however, that he’s gotten lost, and so he begins to wander with the baby. Around nightfall, he makes it out of the forest.
Sir Calepine’s ability to choke a bear with his bare hands is a sign of how, in moments of desperation, he gets the strength he needs to survive. Unfortunately, however, his good deed is what causes him to lose his bearings in the forest.
Themes
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Outside the forest, Sir Calepine runs into a sad-looking woman named Matilda. Her husband, Bruin, recently conquered the surrounding lands by defeating a giant named Cormoraunt. He ruled the land well, but despite this good luck, he doesn’t have an heir, and Cormoraunt still threatens to take back the land.
Matilda and Bruin are very minor characters in the poem, but they provide a convenient means of tying up the story of Sir Calepine and the baby he rescued from a bear, making Sir Calepine’s actions here feel significant and even predestined.
Themes
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Sir Calepine replies that he actually has the perfect solution to their problem, since he just found a baby in the middle of the woods. Matilda agrees that what Calepine says is reasonable, and so she adopts the child as her own, eventually raising him to grow up and be a famous knight. While Calepine is satisfied with this resolution for the baby, he still worries about Serena, and so he sleeps on the hard ground, promising not to use a bed until he finds Serena again.
Famous knights often have unusual birth stories (Arthegall, for example, is a mortal who was stolen by fairies), and here Sir Calepine lays the groundwork for yet another famous knight (although this knight won’t appear again in The Faerie Queene). With this matter resolved, Calepine can once more focus on finding help for Serena.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon