Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 4, Canto 6

By Edmund Spenser

Book 4, Canto 6

  • Poor Scudamore has been seriously wounded by Care, but not the kind of wound any old medicine will fix, this wound is deep and self-consuming.
  • While Scudamore is riding, tending this wound and feeling sad, he sees a knight coming and they almost charge each other.
  • But the knight quickly asks his pardon, saying he never wanted to charge Sir Scudamore.
  • Scudamore, amazed that this knight knows who he is, asks for the knight's identity.
  • The knight says he can't reveal his name right now, but he's known as the Salvage Knight (and we know that he's Arthegall).
  • Scudamore then wants to know what Arthegall is doing in the forest and Arthegall explains that he's been shamed recently by a knight and describes the armor that this knight carries.
  • When Scudamore hears Arthegall describe Britomart (who he believes stole his wife Amoret) he tells him that this knight has slighted him also and the two vow to help each other find him.
  • As luck with have it, at the very moment, Britomart comes riding toward them and Scudamore asks to take the first go.
  • He heads for her, but she instantly throws him from his saddle, and the same happens to Arthegall when he too tries to charge her.
  • Arthegall leaps up and attacks her and her horse fiercely, finally forcing her to fight on foot, which she does with as much skill and awe as she fought on horseback.
  • She injures him, which only riles him up more, and our narrator points out the sad irony that Britomart is actually hurting the person she loves the most.
  • They continue fighting until finally Arthegall deals an almost deadly blow that knocks Britomart's helmet off and reveals her stunning beauty.
  • Arthegall is completely overcome, drops his swords, and begs her pardon.
  • She, however, is still angry over his latest blow and wants to continue fighting.
  • Scudamore, who had seen all that had happened, is also struck with wonder at her beauty and falls on his knees in shock.
  • But Glauce knows exactly what's going on and is relieved and tells the knights to reveal themselves to Britomart.
  • They do, and when Britomart sees Arthegall's face, she is completely stunned, made motionless, and can't do anything since she recognizes his face from the mirror in her father's house.
  • Scudamore, meanwhile, has put two and two together and realized that Duessa had dishonored Amoret by pretending that she had run off with this knight.
  • Scudamore calls to Arthegall and tells him he's glad that they are reconciled, and when Britomart hears Arthegall's name, she again goes into a kind of fit.
  • Glauce steps in and apologizes for Britomart's odd behavior and encourages Britomart and Arthegall to put aside their anger in favor of love.
  • Arthegall does this, though not too quickly and with no impure thoughts.
  • But Scudamore, anxious for any word of Amoret, finally interrupts and asks where she is.
  • Britomart answers that she doesn't know, that the two of them had been very close and Britomart had saved her from many troubles until one day she woke up to find her completely gone.
  • Scudamore is horrified to hear this, and become paralyzed with grief until Britomart assures him that she'll help him find her.
  • This encourages him and they all follow Arthegall to a castle where they can rest and recover.
  • There, Arthegall begins his courtship of Britomart, who does indeed love him, and the two become engaged.
  • Unfortunately, Arthegall still has a quest he has to fulfill and must leave Britomart, which makes her very sad, but they finally part ways, with Britomart, Scudamore, and Glauce returning to the last known whereabouts of Amoret.