The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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

Summary
Analysis
Cowardly Sir Turpine has no intention of improving himself, though he puts on a friendly outer face. Two knights he doesn’t recognize come to visit him. They ask about an evil man that they heard about nearby, and Turpine points them in the direction where Arthur can still be seen riding off. The one knight calls to Arthur, then attacks him.
Because Sir Turpine is too cowardly to face Arthur again, he relies on others to do his work for him. He may lack the advanced magic of a trickster like Archimago, but he is still perfectly capable of misleading people with his words.
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Arthur fends the knight off and strikes back with a swing that wounds the knight seriously and bathes him in his own blood. He dies. The other knight arrives and is intimidated to see his partner dead and bloodied on the ground. The knight fights for a little while, but Arthur is clearly so strong that eventually the knight begs for mercy. Arthur grants it to him, but says that as a condition, he must bring whoever sent him on his quest to kill Arthur.
Predictably, two random knights are no match for Arthur, not even with their power combined. Arthur kills the one for recklessly attacking him. The other knight shows good sense by recognizing Arthur’s power and not even trying to oppose it any longer.
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The knight goes back to Sir Turpine and lies to him, telling him that both his partner and Arthur are dead. He and Turpine then go back to where Arthur and the dead knight are. In fact, Arthur is sleeping after the battle and does look on the outside like he could be dead. Turpine is satisfied and wants to go back, but the knight prevents him, telling him the truth about Arthur’s deal to spare his life if he brought Turpine there.
The knight here doesn’t seem to have any strong allegiances other than to himself. After Arthur confronts him, he has no problem changing sides and betraying Sir Turpine in order to lead him back to where Arthur is waiting for him.
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Sir Turpine begins to quake at the thought of being punished by Arthur, so he makes plans to attack him while he’s still asleep. While he’s debating what to do, however, the “savage” man is watching from the woods.
Sir Turpine may act like a coward in order to protect himself, but in this case, his hesitancy leaves him open to attack by the “savage man.”
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The savage man shakes his wooden weapon. Just then Arthur wakes up and immediately sees Sir Turpine coming for him. Arthur gets his sword ready, but Turpine immediately drops down and begs for mercy again. Arthur takes all of Turpine’s gear, then hangs him upside-down from a tree by his ankles as a warning to others.
Sir Turpine doesn’t even attempt to fight Arthur a second time, begging for mercy as soon as he realizes he won’t be able to land a sneak attack on a sleeping Arthur. Instead of killing Sir Turpine, Arthur humiliates him by stripping him of all the symbols of his knighthood, perhaps feeling that this is even worse than giving him a knightly death in battle.
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Quotes
Turning back to Serena and Timias, they behold the lady on an ass, led by a fool and a churl. The dignified lady, whose name is Mirabella, is famous throughout Faerie Land, even though she is of low birth. Though she seems worthy of love, her pride and stubbornness have stopped her from finding it.
Not many ladies of low birth in the story achieve the sort of fame that Mirabella does, but in spite of (or perhaps because of) her lowly origins, she is too proud about her appearance.
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One day, Cupid held a meeting in his court and found that several lovers were missing. Infamy and Despight testified that these men were missing on account of Mirabella, who has allegedly killed them by withholding her love. Cupid punished Mirabella by sentencing her to wander in penance until she saves as many people as she has “killed.” When she meets Serena and Timias, she has been repenting for a year and only saved two out of 22 required people.
While the previous section established that Mirabella was too proud, arguably the punishment that Cupid proposes for her is too harsh, since she could never have loved so many men and it is therefore unfair to blame her for their deaths. Despite being a god, Cupid has already been established in the story as a mischievous figure who doesn’t always act morally.
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The rude man with Mirabella is a giant from the same house as Orgoglio (who was slain by Arthur in Book 1) named Disdain. He wields an iron club. The fool who leads her horse is called Scorn, and he is a cruel man who wields a whip.
Mirabella has been accused of being disdainful and scornful of the men who loved her, and so, fittingly, her punishment is to be prisoner to a giant named Disdain and a fool named Scorn.
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Timias is dismayed to see how Disdain and Scorn treat Mirabella, so he attacks Disdain. When Timias’s foot slips, Disdain whacks him with his iron club, then ties him up. They take Timias with them, while Serena thinks he’s been slain and so runs away.
Timias can see that Mirabella’s punishment is overly harsh, so he tries to intervene, but Disdain is a powerful giant (and Timias just recovered from his injury from the Blatant Beast), and so Timias is captured, too.
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