Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 6, Canto 11

By Edmund Spenser

Book 6, Canto 11

  • Love is so wonderful it would just be too good if we were able to enjoy it without disruption.
  • Poor Pastorella is now the captive of the brigands, and their captain takes a liking to her.
  • He tries to win her over by being nice to her, which at first she rebuffs, but soon decides to pretend to like because she fears that otherwise he might try and rape her.
  • Finally, however, he begins to press her and so she must pretend to be sick in order to put him off.
  • While she fakes illness, a group of merchants come looking to buy all the shepherds, which the captain doesn't like, but feels compelled to agree to.
  • So the shepherds are brought out for the merchants to look at. They ask after Pastorella.
  • The captain angrily replies that she is his, and that's she sick anyway. But her beauty attracts the merchants and they refuse to buy any of the shepherds without her being included.
  • The other brigands tell the captain that he should just let her go, but he draws his sword and threatens to kill anyone who tries to take her from him.
  • Soon, an all-out fight begins, and many captives are killed, including Meliboe and his wife.
  • Coridon, however, sneaks out in the chaos.
  • The captain continues to defend Pastorella, keeping her close by his side, and when he is fatally wounded, Pastorella is stabbed in the arm.
  • She falls and is buried by corpses, and later found by the brigands almost on the brink of death.
  • They tend to her so that she regains some strength, but she is then appalled to see that all her family and kin are dead and that she is still a captive, now guarded by a cruel brigand.
  • But we must temporarily leave Pastorella to catch up with Calidore, who is horrified when he returns to Pastorella's house to find it destroyed and everyone gone.
  • Unable to find anyone who can tell him what has happened, he wanders around for a long time until he comes across someone he thinks is a clown but soon realizes is Coridon.
  • He immediately asks where Pastorella is, but Coridon is so distressed with grief he can't answer.
  • Finally, he gasps out that Pastorella is dead, which brings Calidore great grief and he asks Coridon to tell the whole story.
  • Coridon explains that they were captured by brigands and that a fight broke out resulting in the death of Meliboe and his wife and, probably, Pastorella.
  • Calidore is overcome with horror and is unable to do anything until the next day, when he calms down a bit. He resolves to see if there's any chance Pastorella has survived and to either help her or die there with her.
  • After much convincing, since he is a coward, Coridon agrees to show Calidore the hiding place of the brigands and the two go off dressed as shepherds. Thinking ahead, Calidore wears his armor underneath his shepherd gear.
  • Finally, they see the same grooms tending their flocks, which makes Coridon both sad and scared. He urges Calidore to kill the grooms and take the sheep.
  • But instead Calidore wakes the grooms and makes small talk, discovering that the grooms have been hired by the brigands.
  • When night falls, Calidore and Coridon creep into the cave of the brigands and are overjoyed to see Pastorella alive.
  • Calidore sneaks into the chambers of the brigands, opens their heavy doors, kills Pastorella's guard, and calls for her.
  • Immediately, Pastorella knows the voice of Calidore and is overjoyed, and the two are happily reunited with a passionate kiss.
  • By this time the brigands have awoken to the noise and rush in to stop Calidore, but he easily kills many of them.
  • The next day he clears the bodies that block the door, and again fights (and kills) the rest of the brigands.
  • He then grabs Pastorella, takes the brigands' treasure, recovers their old flocks, and heads off.