Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 1: Canto 3

By Edmund Spenser

Book 1: Canto 3

  • For the first time, the narrator personally opens this canto, expressing his sadness for Una and what will befall her. Sniff!
  • We hear that Una, traveling alone, decides one night to rest by a forest and is almost attacked by a vicious lion, who suddenly, upon seeing Una's beautiful face, becomes all cute and tender and sweet. Awww.
  • This makes Una sad, though, since the lion reminds her of Redcrosse.
  • Finally, she resolves to continue on her search for Redcrosse and the faithful lion becomes her companion and protector.
  • After traveling for a long time, she comes across a girl carrying water, who, when she sees Una's lion, runs screaming to her house where she and her blind mother, a devout Catholic, try to lock themselves in.
  • But the lion tears down the door, allowing Una to rest in their house, where she tries to get some sleep, still missing her dear Redcrosse.
  • In the middle of the night, a criminal comes knocking on their door. We learn the criminal is the boyfriend of the daughter, named Abessa, of the blind woman, named Corceca.
  • Too afraid of the lion to open the door, the criminal becomes enraged and knocks the door down.
  • Not such a hot idea, since the lion attacks him, kills him, and tears him up into itty, bitty pieces. Ouch.
  • Una takes off, wandering, we're told, just like Odysseus, but is soon overtaken by Abessa and Corceca who are furious over the death of the criminal, named Kirkapine.
  • Brain bite! Odysseus? Wandering was pretty much his thing, since he was doomed not to reach his home, Ithaca, or his wife Penelope, for ten years after fighting in the Trojan War. Total bummer.
  • The two women unsuccessfully try to curse Una, and finally give up.
  • On their way home, Abessa and Corceca bump into none other than the evil Archimago, who has disguised himself as Redcrosse in order to find Una.
  • The two women tell Archimago all about how terrible Una is, and he sneakily follows her.
  • When Una suddenly sees what she thinks is the banner of Redcrosse, she's overjoyed and rides to him, asking him where he's been and telling him how happy she is to finally see him.
  • Archimago, pretending to be Redcrosse, says he would never leave her and that he had only left to go on a quest that is now over.
  • The two go on, chatting about what's been happening to them, when suddenly they see the fearsome Sansloy approaching, the brother of Sansfoy who the real Redcrosse killed.
  • Sansfoy, seeing who he thinks is Redcrosse, charges to attack and Archimago, even though he's terrified, prepares to fight back.
  • Sansloy easily knocks Archimago off his horse and is about to kill him until Una begs for mercy.
  • Sansloy doesn't care, and lifts Archimago's helmet to look him in the face before he kills him.
  • But instead of seeing Redcrosse, Sansloy is amazed to the see the old face of Archimago, whom Sansloy is friends with.
  • Confused, he apologizes to Archimago while Una, realizing with horror that she's been tricked, is caught by Sansloy.
  • Her trusty lion, seeing this, attacks Sansloy, but sadly, Sansloy is powerful and kills the poor lion.
  • Una, without anyone to protect her, is taken away by Sansloy, who ignores her many pleas for mercy, although her loyal donkey tries to follow.