Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Damsels, Distressed and Not — Faerie Queene, Book 2, Canto 1

Have a good knight
Onward with Sir Guyon, the allegory of Temperance (so it’s rather fitting that my earlier post today dealt with just that). We have a new hero! We may have a new hero, but we get the same old villain, the Archimage, at least at the beginning. And the Archimage is at the very beginning of the canto, getting the first four stanzas all to himself, with Sir Guyon showing up at the end of the fifth:
A goodly knight, all arms in harness meet,
That from his head no place appeared to his feete.
He’s well armored. That gives the Archimage an idea, though how he prepared for this one, the poem doesn’t make clear. Okay, he tells Sir Guyon that he saw a fair maiden attacked by a knight.
When that lewd rybauld, with vyle lust advaunst,
Laid first his filthie hands on virgin cleene.

Sir Guyon is incredulous that anyone who would do that would get to be a knight, even though we’ve already established the existence of bad knights. But, he’s the allegory of Temperance, not of Cleverness or Deduction. Besides, he rides to where the Archimage tells him to go, and there’s a lady
With garments rent, and heare dichevled,
Wringing her handes, and making piteous mone:
Her swollen eyes were much disfigured
And her faire face with teares was fowly blubbered.
She’s not at her best. She’s also Duessa, the allegory of Falsehood, so doubtless her injuries are fake, though Sir Guyon doesn’t know that. Who did these dreadful things to her? Why the Redcross Knight, of course. The question comes to my mind of how long the Archimage and Duessa will be pursuing the Redcrosse Knight. Is this something that Spenser intended to go through the entire poem? Our gullible knight swallows it as well, and goes off to fight the Redcrosse Knight, though the fight never comes to pass; I suspect Spenser couldn’t really have Holiness fighting Temperance. It just doesn’t work.

The Redcross Knight sends Sir Guyon off with a palmer, a pilgrim, who (for some reason that makes no sense to me yet) is referred to as “black.” Really?

In the thirty-fifth stanza, Sir Guyon meets a second damsel in distress. This one’s real, which is lucky for Sir Guyon, since it’s clear he would be believed her anyway. Spenser has told us that he is the allegorical figure of Temperance, but he’s beginning to look like Sir Guyon the Credulous. She makes a better case of it, since she’s bleeding (to death) and her companion is already gone. Alas, she and her companion have fallen prey to the whiles of Acrasia (who gets the name of acting against one’s better judgement.) This makes sense: Temperance gets opposed by Intemperance. We have a new villain!

The woman (who doesn’t seem to get a name) followed her husband (the dead guy) to the Bowre of blis (Bower of Bliss), which is Acrasia’s domain. She had a child (might be important), and when she attempts to rescue her husband, Acrasia poisons him. After telling this tale, she dies. Sir Gyon promises to avenge their deaths, getting his squire (the palmer?) into the deal too:
And worse and worse, young Orphane be thy payne,
If I, or thou, dew vengeaunce doe forbeare,

We know were the next stanza is going.

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...