Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 3, Canto 12

By Edmund Spenser

Book 3, Canto 12

  • Finally, late at night, Britomart hears the sounds of a trumpet, as if some battle was beginning or won.
  • Then, a huge storm brews and earthquake shakes the room and the smoke of fire and sulfur pour into the room; but Britomart doesn't move.
  • Then a huge gust of wind rushes through the house slamming every other door shut but actually opening the doors Britomart is waiting in front of.
  • It reveals a man dressed as if he's performing in a play, who introduces the performance through a series of mimes. On his staff is written the name Ease.
  • Then wonderful music starts, music that is so beautiful it's hard to stop listening, and a series of characters come on stage: Fancy, a young man dressed in feathers; Desire, older and able to create sparks with his hands; Doubt, looking feeble and concerned; Danger, dressed in rags with a deformed face; Fear, wearing armor but still extremely timid; Grief, looking downcast; Fury, almost naked and angrily tearing off her clothes; Displeasure, looking sad; Pleasure, looking happy.
  • After this interesting bunch follows a beautiful woman being led by Despite and Cruelty.
  • She looks like death, but has a certain majesty. Her bare chest has a huge knife sticking out of it.
  • As if that wasn't horrible enough, her heart has been taken out of her chest and is lying in a silver bow; this is poor Amoret.
  • After Amoret comes the blinded Cupid, who rides on a lion, and occasionally takes off his blindfold to look at Amoret.
  • He is followed by a huge horde of horrible monsters and the whole parade marches around the room and then returns through the doors that slam shut behind them.
  • Britomart, who has watched all of this from her hiding spot, runs to the doors but finds them locked.
  • She decides to wait another day. When the parade comes out again, she will rush through the doors.
  • So, she waits a whole other day looking again at the decorations in the two rooms.
  • Finally, night falls, the doors burst open, and Britomart rushes in.
  • But instead of seeing the members of the parade around her, she sees no one—they've all disappeared.
  • Instead, she sees Amoret chained to a pillar and in front her Busirane making "strange characters" (III.xii.31) with his pen dipped in her blood. He's trying to make her love him.
  • When he sees Britomart enter the room, he knocks over his magic books, jumps up, and almost stabs Amoret, but Britomart stops him.
  • He instead stabs Britomart, but not deeply, and Britomart attacks him so violently that he almost dies.
  • However Amoret asks Britomart not to kill him, since he is the only person who can free her from her torment.
  • So Britomart offers Busirane life if he agrees to free Amoret and so he begins casting spells to reverse her suffering.
  • Suddenly, a great earthquake begins and then Amoret's chain unties, the steel comes out of her breast, and her heart returns into her chest, which heals as if it had never been wounded.
  • When Amoret realizes she is free, she thanks Britomart heartily and Britomart tells her that her love Scudamore has been very worried about her.
  • Amoret then chains Busirane in the same she chains he used on her and the three of them head out.
  • Instead of walking through the rooms as they expected, however, the rooms disappear and turn into old, regular ones.
  • Okay, now there are two ending to this story. It's a sort of weird Choose Your Own Adventure-type thing, because Spenser wrote one ending in 1590, and one in 1596.
  • Here's the 1590 ending:
  • Scudamore is overjoyed to see Amoret and the two of them embrace so closely that they look like Hermaphroditus, who was a man and a woman joined together.
  • Britomart is even a little jealous of them.
  • And here's the 1596 ending:
  • Amoret and Britomart leave the house of Busirane feeling quite victorious.
  • However, they are saddened to see that both Scudamore and Britomart's squire (aka, her nurse Glauce) have left the scene.
  • Although Amoret is bummed, she is hopeful that she'll find him soon.
  • It turns out that both Scudamore and Glauce gave up on Britomart since she was inside so long, and left to find some other way to free Amoret.