Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 1, Canto 7

By Edmund Spenser

Book 1, Canto 7

  • Meanwhile, Duessa, master of deceit, returns to the palace of Lucifera and is surprised to find Redcrosse gone.
  • She goes after him, still in the disguise of Fidessa, and soon finds him resting by a fountain listening to the birds sing.
  • She chides him for leaving her and soon they're friends again and both continue to relax by the fountain.
  • Now, this was no ordinary fountain (of course...). It was the dwelling place of a nymph who had displeased the goddess Diana by getting too tired when they were out hunting. Disdainful of the nymph's laziness, Diana cursed the fountain so that whoever drank the water would immediately become tired and lethargic.
  • So, sure enough, Redcrosse takes a nice big gulp of water and immediately becomes lazy and cowardly, content to just sit and chat with Duessa.
  • Suddenly, they hear a horrible noise, and before Redcrosse has time to get his armor, a huge giant emerges from the forest.
  • This arrogant giant, the son of Mother Earth and Aeolus, god of the wind, rushes at Redcrosse with a tree for a spear.
  • Redcrosse, totally unable to fight, manages to avoid the first blow and before landing a second, Duessa begs the giant for mercy, promising they'll both become his servants.
  • The giant, named Orgoglio, likes this plan and willingly accepts Duessa as his mate and throws Redcrosse into the dungeon.
  • Duessa and Orgoglio get along swimmingly, and they decide to adopt a pet monster with seven heads and huge tail that Duessa can ride.
  • Meanwhile, the dwarf, who saw everything that happened, gathers his master's abandoned armor and heads off to find help.
  • Before long, he runs across Una (who is running away from Sansloy, who is running from Satyrane).
  • As soon as she sees the dwarf, Una knows something is wrong, and she falls to ground in sorrow as the dwarf tried his best to comfort and revive her.
  • She is momentarily restored, wishes she were dead, faints three more times and finally asks the dwarf to actually tell her what happened.
  • He tells her everything and the more she hears, the worse she feels since she loves Redcrosse so much.
  • After feeling sad for a while, Una finally resolves to search for Redcrosse high and low.
  • After traveling for a bit, they come across an incredible knight, decked out in the most beautiful and elaborate armor she's ever seen: a tremendous helmet, a dragon crest, a shield—hidden by a veil made of pure diamond. His young squire rides behind him.
  • Even though we're told this knight doesn't do any magic himself, he's known to have a companion, Merlin, who is a famous wizard and who helps him out. (Hint: this might be ringing some bells? Merlin? Wizard-sidekick to a certain King Arthur?
  • We learn that this amazing knight, i.e. Arthur (although he isn't named) was taken to Faerieland after his death in England.
  • As soon as Arthur and Una begin speaking, Arthur can tell that Una is deeply sad and asks her what's wrong.
  • Una doesn't think she can even speak she's so distressed, but Arthur persuades her and she tells her story: she's the daughter of a king and queen whose kingdom is being harassed by a horrible dragon that no knight has been able to conquer.
  • After she went to Queen Gloriana, the queen of Faerieland, for help, she found a young, virtuous knight who agreed to try and help her.
  • This knight, Redcrosse, turned out to be amazing, but now has disappeared. She explains that he was tricked by a magician into believing she, Una, was unfaithful, and that he left her and took up with the wicked Duessa.
  • Duessa than turned him over to a horrible giant, who is keeping him prisoner in a dungeon.
  • Arthur, hearing this sad story, comforts Una and pledges to find and rescue Redcrosse.