Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 2, Canto 11

By Edmund Spenser

Book 2, Canto 11

  • Our narrator wonders why we let extremes ruin the natural moderation of our bodies, since being healthy is so important.
  • Anyway, Guyon is up early, ready to find the Bower of Bliss, and heads off down the river with the Palmer.
  • However, back at Alma's castle, trouble is stirring: those pesky villains who had been attacking her castle earlier are back and in even greater numbers.
  • They begin to relentlessly lay siege to the castle, some trying to batter the main door open, others trying to hurt the castle's five fortifications: Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch.
  • As they continue to try and gain entrance, and are repelled by Alma's guards, Alma becomes increasingly concerned at how extensive this attack is.
  • Arthur, seeing her concern, offers to fight these villains for her and puts on his armor and heads out to face them.
  • When the attackers see him, they shower him with arrows but Arthur repels them all with his shield while injuring others with his sword and treading on some with his horse.
  • The captain of these villains is a scary character: he rides a tiger, and looks almost deathly pale, and carries a bow and arrow.
  • His name is Maleger and two fearsome women ride near him: Impotence and Impatience.
  • Maleger and Arthur begin to fight, and soon Arthur is chasing Malegar who shoots at Arthur while riding backwards on his swift tiger.
  • Arthur decides it's not worth it to chase Malegar but instead will let him use up all his arrows.
  • However, Arthur then sees that one of the women has been collecting Malegar's used arrows and bringing them back to him, so Arthur immediately ties her up.
  • Her sister, the other woman, seeing this, comes to help her sister and suddenly, they both have Arthur on the ground with Malegar about to kill him.
  • Luckily, Arthur's trusty squire intervenes by taking both of the women off of Arthur.
  • This leaves Arthur free to attack Malegar, which he does with renewed vigor, and he is able to pull him off his tiger.
  • Arthur then deals the Malegar a heavy blow, but he rallies quickly and throws a massive stone at Arthur.
  • Arthur avoids it and stabs Malegar in the chest—however, no blood rushes out and Malegar is uninjured.
  • Arthur is astonished and starts to fear that some magic is at work.
  • He decides to put down his sword and his shield and crush Malegar with his bare hands, but no luck.
  • Then Arthur realizes Malegar must be getting his life force from the Earth, and so Arthur grabs him, squeezes the life out of him, and then drowns him in a lake.
  • This does the trick, and the two women kill themselves.
  • Arthur, exhausted and wounded from the fight, faints and his squire takes him back to the Castle where Alma tends to him.