The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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Gloriana (The Faerie Queene)

Although she never appears in the story, the Fairie Queene, whose name is Gloriana, gives the poem its title and motivates much of its action—characters like the Redcross Knight, Sir Guyon, and Calidoreread analysis of Gloriana (The Faerie Queene)

Narrator

Although the narrator of the poem doesn’t draw attention to himself for much of the story, he addresses the reader in the proem for each book and sometimes comments on the action, particularly in the… read analysis of Narrator

Arthur

Arthur, who is a prince during the events of The Faerie Queene, is the same Arthur from British mythology who eventually goes on to become King Arthur with the help of the powerful wizard… read analysis of Arthur

Redcross Knight

The Redcross Knight is the protagonist of the first book of The Faerie Queene (and he also makes brief appearances in later books). His lover is the lady Una, and he becomes friends with… read analysis of Redcross Knight

Arthegall

Arthegall is a brave knight who is first introduced as the lady knight Britomart’s future husband in Book III and who later goes on his own journey as the protagonist of Book V (in… read analysis of Arthegall
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Britomart

Britomart is the protagonist of Book III of The Faerie Queene, and she is a strong knight from Britain who represents the virtue of chastity. After Merlin shows her a vision of Arthegall with… read analysis of Britomart

Sir Guyon

Sir Guyon is the protagonist of Book II of The Faerie Queene, and he is a brave knight who embodies the virtue of temperance. He serves Gloriana, the Faerie Queene, and is guided for much… read analysis of Sir Guyon

Sir Scudamore

Sir Scudamore is a brave knight who falls in love with Amoretta when he sees her in the temple of Venus while obtaining the shield of love, and he ends up being the protagonist for… read analysis of Sir Scudamore

Calidore

Calidore is the protagonist of Book VI of The Faerie Queene, and he is a well-liked knight from Faerie Court who serves the Faerie Queene and who embodies the virtue of courtesy. At the… read analysis of Calidore

Duessa

Duessa is an evil witch who is originally introduced as the lady of the pagan Sansfoy. In fact, she isn’t a fair lady but an old hag who disguises her appearance. In Book I… read analysis of Duessa

Una

Una is a fair maiden who loves and eventually marries the Redcross Knight. Her parents are king and queen of a kingdom located where the Biblical Garden of Eden was located, and their castle… read analysis of Una

Florimell

Florimell is a fair maiden who undergoes numerous misfortunes on her way to eventually marrying Marinell. She wears a gold belt, which she loses when she is attacked by a wild beast and… read analysis of Florimell

Sir Satyrane

Satyrane is a wandering noble knight who helps Una out of a forest when she is separated from the Redcross Knight. He fights Sansloy in Book I before later reappearing in Book III to… read analysis of Sir Satyrane

Amoretta (Amoret)

Amoretta (sometimes also called Amoret) is a beautiful maiden and a twin sister of Belphoebe, who is taken from her nymph mother at a young age and raised by Venus. Sir Scudamore falls… read analysis of Amoretta (Amoret)

Archimago (The Sire)

Archimago (originally introduced as “the Sire”) is an evil wizard who specializes in deception. He causes problems in Book I when he tricks the Redcross Knight into believing that his lady Una has become lusty… read analysis of Archimago (The Sire)

Sansfoy

Sansfoy, Sansloy, and Sansjoy are three Saracens (an old term that usually meant Muslims or sometimes “pagans” in general) who are brothers and who each oppose the noble Redcross Knight on his journey. Sansfoy… read analysis of Sansfoy

Braggadochio

Braggadochio is a recurring villain who first appears in Book II after stealing Sir Guyon’s horse. He travels with Trompart, a servant who is forced into serving Braggadochio and soon learns how to… read analysis of Braggadochio

Acrasia

Acrasia is an evil, pleasure-seeking sorceress who lives in the Bower of Bliss and who is the main antagonist of Book II. Since Book II is about the temperate Sir Guyon, Acrasia represents the… read analysis of Acrasia

Timias

Timias is Arthur’s faithful squire who accompanies him on many of his quests. Like Arthur, Timias is always ready to help passersby in need. He eventually falls in love with the fair huntress Belphoeberead analysis of Timias

Talus

Talus is Arthegall’s metal companion and seems to be something like an early version of a robot. He wields a flail and can be merciless, with Arthegall often having to restrain him from slaying… read analysis of Talus

Belphoebe

Belphoebe is a huntress maiden of the forest who eventually becomes lady of Timias (the squire of Arthur) after rescuing him in the woods. When Timias is tempted to be unfaithful to Belphoebe with… read analysis of Belphoebe

Marinell

Marinell is a knight who lives by the sea and who has been told by his mother, the nymph Cymoent, to avoid women because one will be his downfall. But he is quick to… read analysis of Marinell

The Dragon

The climax of Book I is when the Redcross Knight confronts the dragon that has been terrorizing the castle of Una’s parents, the king and queen. The dragon is a fearsome foe who takes… read analysis of The Dragon

Priamond, Diamond, and Triamond

Priamond, Diamond, and Triamond are three brother knights who, for most of their lives, do everything together. They have a sister named Cambina who eventually marries Cambell. Their mother gets a warning from the… read analysis of Priamond, Diamond, and Triamond

Blandamour

Blandamour is a crooked knight who keeps company with equally disreputable knights like Paridell and Braggadochio. He is boastful and fickle, falling in love with Amoretta first, then “Florimell” (actually a false… read analysis of Blandamour

Proteus

Proteus is a god with the gift of prophecy who warns Marinell that a woman will be his downfall. At one point, he rescues the maiden Florimell but then tries to woo her unsuccessfully and… read analysis of Proteus

Paridell

Paridell is a knight that Sir Satyrane meets after they are both denied hospitality at Malbecco’s castle. Eventually, Malbecco relents and lets them inside, but Paridell soon runs off with Malbecco’s wife Hellenoreread analysis of Paridell

Cambell

Cambell is the brother of Canacee, the friend of Triamond, and the husband of Cambina (Triamond’s sister). Though Book IIII mentions Cambell and Triamond’s virtuous friendship in the subtitle, they play a relatively… read analysis of Cambell

The Blatant Beast

The Blatant Beast shows up briefly at the end of Book V, then becomes the main villain of Book VI, with Calidore chasing after it. The beast is doglike and known for having lots of… read analysis of The Blatant Beast

Grantorto

Grantorto is a tyrant who is the main villain of Book V and who imprisons the innocent Eirena. Arthegall is on a quest from the Faerie Queene to defeat him and free her. To… read analysis of Grantorto

Cymochles

Cymochles is an evil knight who has pledged himself to the pleasure-seeking sorceress Acrasia and who clashes with Sir Guyon. Eventually, he teams up with the fiery knight Pyrochles, in hopes of taking down… read analysis of Cymochles

The Lion

The Lion is a fearsome wild animal that is nevertheless tamed by Una’s grace and beauty. It travels with her and protects her after she is separated from the Redcross Knight, although eventually… read analysis of The Lion

Orgoglio

Orgoglio is an evil giant who schemes with Duessa and who defeats a weakened Redcross Knight in battle, taking him prisoner in his dungeon. Though Orgoglio is a powerful and proud fighter, Prince Arthur manages… read analysis of Orgoglio

Merlin

Merlin is one of the most famous wizards in literature, although he plays only a minor part in The Faerie Queene. As with other versions of his character, he plays a role in helping… read analysis of Merlin

Eirena

Eirena is a fair maiden who is being held captive by a tyrant named Grantorto. Arthegall spends much of Book V trying to free her (although he gets sidetracked along the way) until at… read analysis of Eirena

Despair

Despair is a monster who leads brave knights to kill themselves. Sir Terwin is one of its many victims. The Redcross Knight encounters Despair and is tempted by him, but ultimately is saved when Unaread analysis of Despair

Canacee

Canacee is the sister of Cambell and eventual wife of Triamond. In order to find a worthy husband for her, Cambell organizes a tournament where he will personally face all challengers. During the tournament… read analysis of Canacee

Sir Turpine

There are actually two characters named Sir Turpine. One is captured by Amazons serving their queen Radigund and eventually put to death. The more significant Sir Turpine, however, is a rude man in Book VI… read analysis of Sir Turpine

Mercilla

Mercilla is a just and merciful queen who, like the Faerie Queene and Britomart, is another flattering stand-in for the real Queen Elizabeth. One of her most notable actions is to hold a trial… read analysis of Mercilla

The carle

The carle is an unnamed wild man who lives in the woods and who rapes and eats women. He captures Amoretta and Aemylia. Though he is based on racist stereotypes of a “savage,” he… read analysis of The carle

Dame Cœlia

Dame Cœlia is the mother of Fidelia, Speranza, and Charissa. She is the matron of a holy house where the Redcross Knight recovers after his encounter with Despair, and her virtue… read analysis of Dame Cœlia

Placidas

Placidas is a squire being chased by the evil Corflambo who asks Arthur for help. His friend Amyas has been imprisoned where Corflambo’s daughter Poeana watches over him. Poeana loves Amyas, so Placidas pretends to… read analysis of Placidas

Squire of Dames

The Squire of Dames is a squire who was asked by his lady to “do service unto gentle Dames.” When he ends up winning favor in the hearts of 300 women, however, his lady scolds… read analysis of Squire of Dames

Fidelia, Speranza, and Charissa

Fidelia, Speranza, and Charissa are the three daughters of Dame Cœlia, who runs a holy house where the Redcross Knight recovers after his encounter with Despair. The three daughters represent faith, hope, and… read analysis of Fidelia, Speranza, and Charissa

Sir Calepine

Sir Calepine is the knight of the lady Serena. When Serena is wounded by the Blatant Beast and Calepine tries to carry her across a river, Sir Turpine just watches them and laughs. He… read analysis of Sir Calepine

Mirabella

Mirabella is a fair lady who has been condemned to roam the world with Scorn and Disdain tormenting her as punishment. She comes from low birth, but her beauty led men to their doom, causing… read analysis of Mirabella

Pastorella

Pastorella is a fair maiden who lives among shepherds and who temporarily distracts Calidore from his quest to find the Blatant Beast. Coridon is the shepherd most in love with Pastorella, but she prefers… read analysis of Pastorella

Hellenore

Hellenore is the wife of Malbecco. He is a stingy and jealous man who tries to hide his wife from visitors. Resenting her husband, Hellenore runs off with the visiting knight Paridell, but… read analysis of Hellenore

Mutabilitie (Change)

Mutabilitie (also called Change) is the protagonist of the two cantos that survive from Spenser’s seventh book in The Faerie Queene (he planned twelve books but only fully completed six). She is descended from titans… read analysis of Mutabilitie (Change)

The Lady of Delight (Malecasta)

The Lady of Delight (also called Malecasta) is the lady of a castle themed after Venus. When she sees Britomart in her armor, she thinks Britomart is a man and falls in love with… read analysis of The Lady of Delight (Malecasta)

The Palmer

The Palmer is an elderly religious pilgrim who travels around with Sir Guyon and helps the knight grow in virtue. The holy man isn't just a physical guide for Sir Guyon but also a spiritual… read analysis of The Palmer
Minor Characters
Sansloy
Along with his brothers Sansfoy and Sansjoy, Sansloy is a Saracen (an old term that usually meant Muslims or sometimes “pagans” in general) who opposes the noble Redcross Knight on his journey. After Sansfoy is slain, Sansloy promises to avenge him, but he is eventually slain himself.
Sansjoy
Along with his brothers Sansfoy and Sansloy, Sansjoy is a Saracen (an old term that usually meant Muslims or sometimes “pagans” in general) who opposes the noble Redcross Knight on his journey. After Sansfoy is slain, Sansjoy promises to avenge him, but he is eventually slain himself.
Glauce
Glauce is Britomart’s elderly nurse who acts as something like a squire to her after Britomart ventures out in search of her future husband Arthegall. She is sensible and often provides Britomart with advice.
Una’s Dwarf
Many characters in The Faerie Queene have a dwarf who acts as a servant and helps them while traveling. Una’s dwarf is the most significant of these characters, often acting as an intermediary between his lady and the Redcross Knight whenever Una is in trouble.
Pyrochles
Pyrochles is an evil knight who, spurred on by Furor and Occasion, clashes with Sir Guyon. His servant is Atin, and he eventually allies himself with Cymochles. Pyrochles is strongly associated with fire—his shield reads “Burnt Do I Burn”—and this represents his hot temper.
Furor and Occasion
Furor is a wounded man who acts like he’s insane, and Occasion is his blind hag mother. Together, the two of them inspire violence and discord wherever they go.
Lucifera
Lucifera is the lady of the House of Pride, a crucial stop on the Redcross Knight’s journey. She is the daughter of Pluto (god of the underworld). She is a tyrant who rides around on beasts named after the seven deadly sins.
Cambina
Cambina is the sister of Priamond, Diamond, and Triamond. Although Cambell kills two of her brothers, she eventually marries him, cementing the friendship between Cambell and Triamond (the surviving brother, who marries Cambell’s sister Canacee).
Radigund
Radigund is queen of a tribe of Amazons who temporarily capture and humble Arthegall. Her maid Clarinda watches Arthegall when he’s in captivity. She is a proud and powerful warrior, but when Britomart comes to rescue Arthegall, she ends up beheading Radigund in battle.
Amavia
Amavia is a dying woman who inspires the temperate Sir Guyon to seek revenge on Acrasia, the evil witch who killed Amavia’s lover Sir Mordant. She dies soon after speaking to Guyon.
Sir Mordant
Sir Mordant is Amavia’s lover and becomes one of many men who fall under the sorceress Acrasia’s spell. He is so deeply under her spell, in fact, that when he tries to escape her Bower of Bliss, he dies soon afterwards.
The Savage Man
The savage man from Book VI (not to be confused with the carle, who is also described as a savage man) has noble blood in him, despite his rough outer appearance. He helps Arthur, Sir Calepine, and Serena as they oppose the rude Sir Turpine.
Phaedria
Phaedria is a fair lady who escorts both Cymochles and Sir Guyon to an island dedicated to idle pleasure. Though Sir Guyon is tempted by the island’s delights, the temperate knight ultimately comes to his senses and flees.
Malbecco
Malbecco is a very greedy man who doesn’t like providing hospitality to knights in her castle, including Paridell and Sir Satyrane. When Paridell runs off with Malbecco’s wife Hellenore and also sets Malbecco’s money on fire, Malbecco goes to save the money first.
Scorn and Disdain
Scorn is a fool with a whip and Disdain is a giant (and a cousin of Orgoglio) with a heavy iron club. Together, they travel with Mirabella and punish her on Cupid’s behalf for “killing” men with her beauty.
Cymoent
Cymoent is a water nymph and the protective mother of the knight Marinell, who warns him to avoid women, then takes care of him after he is gravely wounded by the lady knight Britomart.
Busirane
Busirane is an evil sorcerer who kidnaps the fair Amoretta and tortures her. Britomart defeats him, however, and in exchange for his life, he agrees to let Amoretta go.
Coridon
Coridon is a shepherd who loves Pastorella and competes (unsuccessfully) for her affection against Calidore. When many shepherds are kidnapped by brigands, Coridon escapes to ask Calidore for help and help him free Pastorella.
Venus
Venus is the goddess of love and the mother of Cupid. A temple to Venus plays a key role in Book IIII when Scudamore travels there to retrieve a shield and meet Amoretta.
Ate
Ate is an old hag who rides with the false sorceress Duessa in Book IIII, and she is known as the mother of all discord, having been a powerful force throughout history. She specializes in creating arguments and tries to get knights to fight with each other.
Serena
Serena is the lady of Sir Calepine. She gets badly wounded by the Blatant Beast, but Calepine cares for her. Sir Turpine, meanwhile, rudely refuses them any hospitality, despite Serena’s grave injuries. She is captured by cannibals but eventually Calepine frees her.
Clarinda
Clarinda is the maid of the Amazon queen Radigund, and she watches over Arthegall when he’s in Radigund’s captivity. She schemes to win Arthegall’s affection and is disappointed when he remains faithful to Britomart.
Blandina
Blandina is the lady of the rude Sir Turpine. She schemes with him and tries to protect him from Arthur.
Error
Error is a half-woman, half-snake monster that lives in darkness. When she dies, her children eat her flesh until they themselves burst and die.
Mammon
Mammon is a personification of greed who tries (unsuccessfully) to tempt Sir Guyon with extravagant wealth while Sir Guyon is in the underworld.
Munera
Munera is the sorceress daughter of the Saracen Pollente who spends her time lying on a heap of gold. Arthegall and Talus punish her greed by chopping off her hands and feet, then throwing her body to drown in mud.
Bead-men
The seven Bead-men live in the house of Dame Cœlia, where the Redcross Knight recovers after encountering Despair. They represent the opposite of the seven deadly sins from the House of Pride.
Contemplation
Contemplation is an old man that the Redcross Knight meets while staying at the holy house of Dame Cœlia. Though he is full of grace, he sometimes gets too distracted by his own heavenly thoughts.
Mercy
Mercy lives in the house of Dame Cœlia, where the Redcross Knight recovers after encountering Despair. She is the embodiment of the virtue mercy, and she guides him to meet contemplation.
Briana and Crudor
Briana is a lady who torments traveling knights because the knight Crudor is too proud to accept her love. Calidore intervenes and gets Crudor to accept Briana, causing her to repent of her past ways.
Poeana
Poeana is the daughter of the evil man Corflambo, and she oversees his dungeon. She falls in love with Amyas but gets tricked when Placidas pretends to be him. After the death of Corflambo, she becomes less proud and marries Placidas.
Sir Sanglier
Sir Sanglier is an immoral knight who beheads his own lady and steals the lady of a squire that he likes better. Arthegall tracks him down with Talus and forces him to carry around the head of his former lady as punishment.
Care
Care is a blacksmith who makes a lot of noise and doesn’t let Scudamore get any sleep when he visits.
Pollente
Pollente is an evil Saracen who charges a toll on a bridge and gives the money to his daughter Munera. He ends up being slain in a fight with Arthegall.
Corflambo
Corflambo is an evil man who rides a camel and can kill with his stare. He chases the squire Placidas and has a daughter named Poeana. Arthur beheads him.
Amyas
Amyas is a squire and a friend of Placidas. He gets imprisoned by Corflambo, where Corflambo’s daughter Poeana keeps watch in the dungeon and falls in love with him. Eventually, with help from Arthur, Amyas’s friend Placidas gets him free.
Melibee
Melibee is a peaceful shepherd and Pastorella’s father. When several shepherds are kidnapped by brigands, Melibee ends up being killed.
The Sultan and Adicia
The Sultan and Adicia are a husband and wife who plot to overthrow the just queen Mercilla. Arthegall foils their plot, killing Sultan. Adicia is so enraged by this that she goes off wandering the world and turns into a tiger.
Sir Bellamoure and Claribell
Sir Bellamoure and Claribell are Pastorella’s parents, although they were separated from Pastorella shortly after her birth and don’t see her again until she happens to visit their castle after being rescued by Sir Calidore. (This Claribell is different from Philemon’s lover.)
Tristram
Tristram is a noble young man who is the son of a British king. Calidore is impressed to see Tristram defend himself from an attacking knight even though Tristram doesn’t have armor of his own.
Sclaunder
Sclaunder (like “slander”) is an old hag who lives in the woods and spreads poisonous words about noble knights.
Priscilla and Aladine
Priscilla and Aladine are lovers, although Aladine comes from a lower status than Priscilla. Aladine gets badly wounded, but Calidore helps by killing the knight who injured him.
Bracidas
Bracidas is the elder brother of Amidas and is in a land dispute with him that Arthegall helps solve. His betrothed, Philtera, leaves him for his brother, while his brother’s betrothed, Lucy, ends up with Bracidas instead.
Amidas
Amidas is the younger brother of Bracidas. During a land dispute, the two of them end up swapping fiancées, with Philtera going to Amidas and Lucy going to Bracidas. Arthegall helps them resolve their dispute.
Geryoneo
Geryoneo is a landlord with six arms and six legs who feeds Belgae’s children to a monster. He puts up a fight in battle against Arthur before being slain.
Aemylia
When Amoretta is captured by the carle, Aemylia is already one of his prisoners, and she explains to Amoretta how dangerous and wicked the carle is.
Sir Ferraugh
Sir Ferraugh is a morally questionable knight who thinks he is stealing Florimell from Braggadochio, although actually he only steals false Florimell (an evil sprite who is disguised as her).
Alma
Alma is a courteous lady who hosts Sir Guyon and Arthur at a castle where they have some leisure time and read about the history of Britain. Her castle is under siege by swarms of enemies, led by Malegar.
Philemon
Philemon and his lover Claribell get killed when Furor and Occasion stir up trouble. (This Claribell is different from the one who is married to Sir Bellamoure and is the mother of Pastorella).
Maleffort
Maleffort is a guard who helps Briana try to win the love of Crudor. He resorts to evil tactics, and so Calidore cuts his head off.
Sir Terwin
Sir Terwin is a knight who died after an encounter with the monster Despair.
Sir Trevisan
Sir Trevisan is the knight who warns the Redcross Knight and Una about how the knight Sir Terwin died after encountering Despair.
Philtera
Philtera is a greedy woman who leaves Bracidas for his younger brother Amidas when Amidas suddenly gets a little more land.
Lucy
Lucy is abandoned by her betrothed, Amidas, when Philtera comes for him instead. She tries to kill herself but ends up saved by Amidas’s older brother, Bracidas, and marries him instead.
Belgae
Belgae is a poor woman oppressed by the evil tyrant Geryoneo, who kills her children. Some of her surviving children ask Mercilla for help.
Malegar
Malegar is the captain of the swarms of enemies that attack Alma’s castle. Arthur defeats Malegar easily, although he’s surprisingly durable, surviving even being cut in half.
Fradubio and Fraelissa
Fradubio and Fraelissa are lovers who get turned into trees by the evil sorceress Duessa.
Night
Night is a woman who wears all black. Duessa visits with her while staying at Lucifera’s House of Pride, and Night promises her that the Redcross Knight will pay for slaying Sansfoy.
Corceca
Corceca is the blind mother of Abessa who at one point hosts Una and the Lion. She thoughtlessly recites hundreds of prayers a day, which is a criticism of and parody of Catholicism.
Kirkrapine (A Criminal)
Kirkrapine is a criminal who loves Abessa. He is slain by Una’s Lion when he tries to sneak in to see Abessa.
Colin Clout
Colin Clout is a shepherd known for his skill playing pipes and who originally appeared in another pastoral poem that Spenser wrote.
Abessa
Abessa is daughter of the blind mother of Corceca who loves the criminal Kirkrapine.
Æsculapius
Æsculapius is a god of medicine who, in mythology, was sent to the underworld for being too good at stopping death. He helps heal Sansjoy’s wounds (from battling the Redcross Knight) for Night and Duessa.
Elissa, Perissa, and Medina
Elissa, Perissa, and Medina are three sisters who cause discord between Sansloy, Sir Huddibras, and Sir Guyon, trying to distract Guyon from his service to the Faerie Queene.
Malengin
Malengin is an evil man who steals from travelers and lives underground. Talus finds him and dismembers him as punishment.
Sir Sergis
Sir Sergis is a knight who travels with Arthegall when he’s on his way to defeat Grantorto and free Eirena.
Samient
Samient is a damsel who tells Arthegall about the good queen Mercilla.
Argante
Argante is an evil giantess who captures the Squire of Dames.
Ollyphant
Ollyphant is a giant who is Argante’s even greedier brother.
Sir Huddibras
Sir Huddibras is an evil knight and an ally of Sansloy.
Sylvanus
Sylvanus is an old forest god who still enjoys pleasure. He and his fauns and satyrs (half-men, half-goats) save Una from Sansloy in the forest.
Diana
Diana is the virgin huntress goddess of the woods.
Cupid
Cupid is the mischievous god of love and the son of the goddess Venus.
Jupiter
Jupiter is king of the gods and one of the most powerful among them.
Burbon
Burbon is the knight who warns Arthegall about Grantorto’s threat to kill Eirena if Arthegall doesn’t show up by a certain date.
Atin
Atin is the servant of the fiery knight Pyrochles.
Malvenù
Malvenù is the porter at Lucifera’s House of Pride.
Ruddymane
Ruddymane is an orphan saved by Sir Guyon.