Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 5, Canto 3

By Edmund Spenser

Book 5, Canto 3

  • Just like the sun comes out after a storm, so too do good things eventually happen after bad.
  • This is true of Florimell, who after suffering a long time is now happily married.
  • It was a glorious event, with many illustrious guests, but our narrator doesn't think it's his job to describe it.
  • So, skipping the ceremony and the feast, we go right to the tournament where Marinell and six other knights first challenge everyone to fight over the perfection of Florimell.
  • And after many fights with many different knights, Marinell emerges triumphant, and the same thing happens again the second day.
  • But, on the third day, even though Marinell fights very bravely, he is so outnumbered that he ends up being taken prisoner.
  • But at the moment, who should arrive but Artegall with Braggadochio, his squire Trompart, and the False Florimell.
  • Artegall had run into Braggadochio and the false Florimell on his way, and when he saw who he thought was Florimell with another man right before she was supposed to be getting married to Marinell, he was very upset and insisted that they come with him to Marinell.
  • Anyway, when Artegall sees Marinell so outnumbered, he rushes in to help and frees him.
  • This whole time, Braggadochio has been concealing the False Florimell.
  • After the tournament, the judges all assemble and the real Florimell comes out to greet the champions.
  • In Artegall's place, however, steps forward Braggadochio, who has taken Artegall's shield.
  • Apparently confusing the crowd, they name him the champion and the real Florimell comes forward to congratulate him.
  • But Braggadochio rudely says that he didn't fight for her but instead for his lady, and he suddenly reveals the False Florimell who has been wearing a veil.
  • The crowd is astounded and doesn't know what to make of these two identical women and can't decide which one is real.
  • Marinell in particular is astounded and even begins to think the False Florimell might be the real one.
  • Artegall is horrified to see what is happening and what Braggadochio is claiming with his shield.
  • So, he steps in and explains that it wasn't actually Braggadochio who fought and saved Marinell, but himself and he further surmises that the false Florimell is exactly that, a replica of the real thing.
  • He decides they ought to be put side by side and the real one judged.
  • But as soon as the two Florimells are placed side by side, the fake one vanishes into dust, leaving nothing but the girdle.
  • Everyone is amazed to see this happening, and Braggadochio is in complete shock.
  • Artegall picks up the girdle and returns it to its rightful owner, the true Florimell, around whose waist it fits perfectly since she is chaste and virtuous.
  • While everyone is preoccupied with Florimell, suddenly Sir Guyon comes out of the crowd to attack Braggadochio and reclaim his horse that Braggadochio had stolen back in Book II.
  • Before the two can fight, however, Artegall intervenes and asks what is going on.
  • Guyon explains that Braggadochio stole his horse while he was helping a poor dying woman and her baby (Ruddymane and Amavia).
  • Artegall then asks if Guyon can identify any unique mark on the horse to prove that it is Guyon's, and Guyon describes a mark located in the horse's mouth.
  • But anyone who tries to get the horse to open his mouth fails, until finally, Guyon tries, calling the horse by his name, and the horse opens his mouth freely.
  • Artegall now knows for certain that the horse belongs to Guyon and turns to punish Braggadochio.
  • But Guyon stops him, saying it's a waste, and instead Talus punishes Braggadochio, breaking all his knightly armor, marks his face, and generally exposes him outwardly as the coward he is inwardly.