Study Guide

Samient in The Faerie Queene

By Edmund Spenser

Samient

Handmaiden to the great Queen Mercilla, Samient appeals to Arthur and Artegall to help her and her queen deal with the petty tyranny and villainy of Adicia and the Souldan. But Samient's adventures with Arthur and Artegall extend beyond her expressed mission.

As soon as she gets talking about the local degenerates, Arthur and Artegall become fascinated by a particularly unsavory fellow named Malengin and decide to use her as bait to lure him out of his trap. Her willingness to help them with this plan is a nice change from the typical role female characters usually occupy, as being entirely unwilling victims.

Here, while Samient is being again asked to play the part of the victim, she has agency over that role and is fulfilling that role as one of the team. By helping Arthur and Arthegall trap Malengin, she's offered something closer to a masculine job in saving the day, not just needing to be saved.