Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 3, Canto 8

By Edmund Spenser

Book 3, Canto 8

  • Our narrator admits that sometimes it's hard to tell the story of Florimell because it's just so sad.
  • But, tell it he must and we return to the Witch. The monster has just returned with Florimell's girdle.
  • Thinking this means that Florimell is dead, the witch happily shows the girdle to her son.
  • But her son, who was in love with Florimell, is horrified and goes crazy with the thought that Florimell is dead.
  • The witch, hiding herself from his anger in her magical cave, comes up with the shocking idea of crafting a Florimell look-alike that's so accurate, even Nature is jealous.
  • She makes her body out of snow, the eyes of lamps, golden wire for hair, and uses one of her magic spirits to give it life.
  • Since, apparently, Florimell left some of her clothes at the witch's house, she uses these to dress her and make her essentially indistinguishable from the real Florimell.
  • The witch brings this duplicate to her son, who is delighted.
  • One day, the son and the false-Florimell take a walk outside and run into the ever-irritating Braggadochio.
  • Braggadochio is shocked to see such a beautiful woman with such a loser and easily defeats the witch's son, who's a total coward, and carries off the false-Florimell for himself, quite pleased with this accomplishment.
  • As he's trying to convince her to love him, they come across a big and intimidating knight who demands to have Florimell for himself.
  • Braggadochio, terrified, pretends that he's willing to fight him for her but actually turns tail and runs easily allowing the knight to scoop up the false-Florimell and ride off with her.
  • Meanwhile, the real Florimell is stuck in a boat in the middle of the ocean.
  • When the old man in the boat wakes up, Florimell asks him to steer them back to land, but he, amazed at waking up to find a beautiful woman in his boat, tries to assault her, soon becoming quite violent.
  • Florimell, terrified, begs heaven for help and laments that no chivalrous knights are nearby to help her.
  • But heaven hears her pleas and sends Proteus, the shepherd of the sea, to her aid.
  • He beats the old man with his staff and endeavors to comfort Florimell, who's afraid that this new arrival is just another villain.
  • Finally, he convinces her that she can trust him and gently carries her to his home—a massive, oceanic cave—while violently throwing the old man away onto the shore.
  • He and his sea-nymph, Panope, try to entertain Florimell, and Proteus tries to woo her, but Florimell isn't interested.
  • Proteus begins to step up his attempts, tempting her and even changing shape to look like a Fairy Knight (since that's who she says she does love)—it helps that Proteus is a shape-shifter.
  • However, when none of this has any effect on Florimell, Proteus begins to get angry and uses threats to try and persuade her to sleep with him.
  • Florimell, of course, is impervious to his threats and our narrator laments that he has to leave this admirable young lady in such a perilous situation while he explains what happened to Satyrane.
  • So Satyrane has finished chatting with the Squire of Dames when they see an impressive-looking knight in the distance.
  • When Satyrane gets closer he sees that it's Paridell and asks him what he's up to and what's going on at the Faerie Court.
  • Paridell says things aren't great since Marinell is dead and Florimell is missing. Paridell explains that he and all the other knights of Faerie Land are on a mission to find her.
  • Satyrane informs Paridell that he's pretty sure Florimell is dead, which upsets Paridell greatly and he demands to know why Satyrane thinks this.
  • Satyrane explains he saw her horse being eaten by a monster and that he found her girdle in the forest.
  • Paridell agrees that the signs are not good, but he and the two other knights agree to keep looking.
  • However, the Squire of Dames suggests they find somewhere to rest since it's getting dark and so they head to a nearby castle.
  • The castle, however, won't open to the knights and the Squire then begins to explain why that is… but we'll have to wait until next canto to find out.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...