Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 4, Canto 10

By Edmund Spenser

Book 4, Canto 10

  • Scudamore begins his story by remarking on how true it is that love is more pain than joy, although it also makes you completely steadfast and unconcerned about the pain you feel.
  • He then describes how when he was young, he decided he needed to go on a great adventure to prove his worth.
  • He goes to the temple of Venus, a beautiful island, but heavily guarded by towering castles and twenty knights.
  • In the field in front of the temple stands a pillar holding a great shield, the shield of Love. Many knights seek this shield, for it promises the hand of the fair Amoret.
  • Scudamore decides he wants this shield and this lady and so raps loudly on the shield calling forth a knight who attacks him.
  • He easily unseats the knight, and the nineteen others after him, and proceeds to the outer gate, which is locked fast.
  • He finally spies someone looking through a crevice, the porter of the castle named Doubt, who has a face on both sides of head like the god Janus.
  • He lets Scudamore in, but quickly his associate Delay comes out, hoping to detain him with chit-chat.
  • Scudamore isn't interested and heads to the next gate, the Gate of Good Desert, which is open but guarded by a huge giant named Danger.
  • These names. Wow.
  • Most knights who see Danger either run the other direction immediately, or try to avoid him by sneaking under the gate.
  • But Scudamore decides to face him directly, armed with the shield of Love, and when the giant sees this, he actually just lets him through.
  • Scudamore looks back quickly to make sure everything if all right, and sees that the back of Danger is filled with Hatred, Murder, Treason, and all other sorts of bad things.
  • Finally, he comes to the island itself, which looks incredibly beautiful, filled with every kind of tree, brook, flower—almost like a second paradise—and lovely walks and paths.
  • Along these paths walk many lovers together, talking only of their true love, and in another part of the island walk friends together, who also talk of their bonds of friendship.
  • Even though Scudamore is overwhelmed by the happiness he sees between these people, he presses on in search of his love and finally comes to the Temple of Venus itself, so incredibly magnificent it puts all other temples ever built to shame.
  • Standing on the porch of the temple is a woman named Concord, older and elegant and the mother of Friendship and Peace, flanked by two brothers, Love and Hate, who she keeps at perfect harmony with each other.
  • It is Concord who keeps the universe in order and every element in its proper place.
  • She invites Scudamore in, between her and Love (Hate won't let him pass) and he enters the inner temple, which is filled with incense and smoke.
  • Hundreds of altars stand around the room, with many lovers offering prayers for their love, and in the middle stands a statue of Venus herself.
  • The statue is incredible, made of precious stone beyond what we know on earth, her feet and legs are bound together by a snake and she is covered in a veil, possibly to conceal the fact that she is a hermaphrodite, both her own mother and father.
  • Little cupids fly all around her and although her temple is filled with the prayers and complains of many, many lovers, one hymn in particular can be heard above anything else.
  • The hymn praises her beauty and her power over nature and on-going cycle of life and love.
  • Amidst all this, Scudamore offers his own prayer for his love of Amoret and while he speaks he notices a group of beautiful damsels sitting at the feet of the statue.
  • One is older and in charge, named Womanhood, one always looks nervously at the ground and is named Shamefastness, one is happy and in good spirits, named Cheerfulness, one sober and sad named Modesty, one obedient and polite named Courtesy, and two that sit linked together are named Silence and Obedience.
  • Huh. Paging Mary Wollstonecraft: there's a feminist emergency.
  • Sitting the lap of Womanhood was the lovely Amoret.
  • Scudamore immediately falls in love with her, but feels bad intruding on their peace and seclusion.
  • But, he decides to be bold and goes to Amoret and takes her by the hand.
  • Womanhood criticizes his boldness until he shows her the shield he won and then he leads Amoret out, noting that the statue of Venus smiles on him with approval, even though Amoret asks him to let her go.

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