The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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

Summary
Analysis
The wounds the Blatant Beast left in Serena and Timias only continue to fester and grow. The hermit, who was once a proud knight, continues to care for them but notices how serious their wounds are. The hermit knows of the Blatant Beast, and he knows how herbs alone can’t cure the beast’s poisonous bite. He tells them to live a simple ascetic life like him, and soon after they do so, they begin to heal. They are eventually well enough to leave.
The hermit’s cure of living an ascetic life may seem at first to be an unusual one. On the one hand, asceticism can be associated with religion, and so living simply like a monk might improve one’s spiritual health, and ultimately one’s physical health. Since the Blatant Beast’s wounds are related to a person’s reputation, perhaps it is also helpful to withdraw from society to live an isolated life, where reputation isn’t as important.
Themes
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Quotes
Serena and Timias stick together, since she is fearful and wants protection, and he is courteous. They come to a maiden (Mirabella) in mourning clothes, riding a mangy animal and with a churl and a fool leading them.
This section builds suspense by introducing some strange characters that Serena and Timias encounter before switching over to a different part of the story.
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Meanwhile, Arthur and the “savage” man go out seeking Sir Turpine as Serena described him. They go to Turpine’s castle, where Arthur pretends to be a mild errant knight who is wounded and needs sanctuary. Arthur is turned away, which enrages the savage man, who starts tearing people up with his teeth like a lion. More people attack Arthur and the savage man, and when they’re beaten back, they go bring the news to Turpine.
Arthur pretends to be a lowly injured knight in order to see Sir Turpine’s lack of courtesy firsthand. Despite the “savage man” having noble blood, he still fights in an animalistic way (although noble knights themselves are often compared to wild animals, like boars or lions).
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Sir Turpine accuses Arthur of cowardly slaying his men, then sends 40 new men over to attack him, but Arthur holds his own. Turpine sees Arthur’s skill and tries to flee, but Arthur spots him and fights his way through the crowd. They run around the castle until at last Turpine is cornered. Arthur smites him on the head, though it’s with the flat of the blade so it doesn’t pierce his skull.
Sir Turpine continues to prove his own cowardice, first telling outright lies, then attempting to flee before he himself is in any danger. Perhaps Arthur deliberately avoids striking a killing blow against Sir Turpine because he wants to teach him a lesson.
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Blandina runs over and covers Sir Turpine with her clothes, pleading for Arthur to show mercy. Arthur holds off on dealing a killing blow. When Blandina backs away to reveal Turpine, he is cowering, and Arthur regrets sparing his life. He scolds Turpine for the wrongs he’s committed against noble knights and ladies. Arthur commands Turpine to give up his knighthood and live a normal life.
By letting Blandina plead for mercy on his behalf, Sir Turpine even allows his lady to go into danger before him, which is why Arthur scorns him and regrets showing mercy. Nevertheless, the presence of Blandina seems to be what convinces Arthur to give Sir Turpine another chance if he promises to reform his ways.
Themes
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Arthur goes back to check on the savage man and finds him still ruthlessly attacking Sir Turpine’s men. He orders the savage man to back down. The savage man and Arthur stay at the castle for a little while, and Blandina pretends to be a good hostess, but really, she is just trying to create an opportunity for Turpine to get revenge. But Turpine procrastinates in a cowardly manner, and so Arthur and the savage man leave before anything can happen to them.
Like the iron man Talus, the “savage man” can be a powerful force for justice, but he also sometimes needs instructions from a more level head like Arthur’s. At their castle, Blandina and Sir Turpine demonstrate that they’ve learned nothing, and Turpine is perhaps even more cowardly than before.
Themes
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