Study Guide

Serena in The Faerie Queene

By Edmund Spenser

Serena

Serena, whose name means "calm" or "peaceful," is constantly the victim of a large, public world intruding on her covert, private one. We first meet her when Calidore blunderingly walks in on her and Calepine making love, an perfect example of the public intruding where it shouldn't, and when she wanders off in the forest thinking she's alone, she's attacked by the Blatant Beast, the epitome of public slander and disgrace.

Finally, at the end when she is almost sacrificed by the savages to their god, her naked body is put on public display, yet again a transgression of the private. Serena's innocence and calm in all these situations point Spenser's overall bleak outlook on reputation in the public sphere. Although she has done nothing to deserve the slights she's experienced, there doesn't seem anything that can be done to prevent them.