Spenser's Faerie Queene

Outline of Book I

Canto I [all]
Invocation. The Redcrosse knight, undertaking a quest to kill the dragon who has imprisoned Una's parents (and thereby win her as his bride), defeats the dragon- woman of error. At the forest home of an apparently pious old man (Archimago), the knight is tempted (first in a dream, then by the conjurings of his host) to believe Una unfaithful. In anguish, he rides off, leaving her behind.

Canto II [paragraphs 1-30]
Redcrosse encounters and slays Sansfoy, a Saracen knight, who is travelling in the company of Duessa masquerading as Fidessa. The knight and (false) lady rest under a tree which claims to be a man (Fradubio) betrayed and imprisoned by Duessa.

Canto III [paragraphs 1-9, 24-44]
Una, seeking her lost knight, finds a champion in a fierce lion. Together they take refuge with a mother and daughter who represent blindness to the truth. The lion kills the daughter's "suitor" Kirkrapine. Archimago, disguised as Redcrosse, presents himself to Una but is almost immediately defeated in combat (and exposed) by Sansloy, brother to Sansfoy. Sansloy proceeds to slay the lion and carry off Una.

Canto IV [1-36]
Redcrosse, in the company of Duessa, arrives at the court of Lucifera (Pride), where he issues a challenge to Sansjoy (other brother).

Canto V [1-27, 45-53]
Redcrosse strikes down Sansjoy, who is then hidden in a cloud by a god. Duessa flies to the land of Night and convinces her to retrieve the wounded knight, her true love, and take him to Hell to be healed by Aesculapius. Meanwhile Redcrosse has fled the castle of Pride, leaving her behind.

Canto VI [paragraphs 1-19, 33-48]
Una is saved from the lust of Sansloy by a troupe of fawns and satyrs, who take her to live with them, though they prove unteachable. A rough, but more receptive, half- breed, Satyrane, rescues her from the sylvan company and travels with her until they encounter a pilgrim (Archimago) who tells them of witnessing the death of Redcrosse at the hand of Sansloy. The pilgrim then guides them to Sansloy, who engages Satyrane in battle. Una flees, pursued by Archimago.

Canto VII [all]
Duessa in the guise of Fidessa catches up with Redcrosse by a stream which is polluted and from which he drinks. Redcrosse, weakened, now faces the giant Orgoglio (another form of Pride), who takes the knight as prisoner and Duessa as mate. Redcrosse's loyal Dwarf, with the knight's armor, meets Una and tells her of all his adventures. They are befriended by Prince Arthur himself, and Una recounts the history of her woes. Arthur promises to aid her.

Canto VIII [all]
Arriving at the giant's castle, Arthur's squire blows a blast on his horn that causes all the doors to fly open. Duessa and Orgoglio attack Arthur, who, hardpressed, is saved by the clear light of his diamond shield. His squire takes Duessa prisoner; Arthur frees Redcrosse from his dungeon. They strip Duessa, revealing her monstrous nature, and let her go.

Canto IX [all]
Arthur tells of his youth and his love for (the vision of) the Queene of Faeries, Gloriana. They exchange gifts and part. Redcrosse intercepts a knight fleeing from Despair and demands he return with him to confront the villain. Despair tempts Redcrosse, but Una intervenes angrily. Despair hangs himself but cannot die.

Canto X [none]
Una brings her weakened knight to Dame Caelia and her daughters Fidelia (Faith), Speranza (Hope), and Charissa (Love). Una puts Redcrosse to school to learn wisdom; in addition, he is treated by the physician Patience; finally he meets Charissa, who leads him to a "holy Hospitall," where he learns true holiness. From thence he ascends the mountain of Contemplation with an ancient guide, where he sees (but cannot yet enter) the City of God. The old man tells him of his destiny and of his birth.

Canto XI [all]
The approach of Una and Redcrosse to the tower where her parents are held captive arouses the dragon. In an epic battle, Redcrosse wounds the dragon under one wing, but the dragon succeeds in casting him into a well, from which he is "reborn." In a second battle, nearly overcome, the knight is revived by water flowing from the Tree of Life. In the third battle, the knight thrusts deep into the dragon's open maw, and the beast expires.

Canto XII [all]
The court, now freed, pour out of the castle to see the dragon dead, and then they feast. "Fidessa" sends a messenger (Archimago) to prevent the betrothal of Redcrosse with Una, but all in vain. The magician is thrown into the dungeon, and the betrothal [engagement] of Holiness and Truth is solemnized.


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Rev 1/98