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Book III, Canto XII

May 17, 2011

Whoooa…we’re halfway there!

A storm, an earthquake, and the smell of smoke and sulphur conspire to strike fear into Britomart, but it doesn’t work. After two hours of this, the iron door flies open and out steps Ease in his theater garb. It is a masque, which is sort of like a play, a pantomime, a parade, and an opera all in one.

The parade feature’s Cupid’s gang of Fancy, Desire, Doubt, Danger, Fear, Hope, Dissemblance, Suspect, Grief, Fury, Displeasure, and Pleasure. Then comes Despite and Cruelty, forcing a poor dame to march with them. Her chest is gaping open, her heart pierced by a dart. It’s all very gory.

Then comes Cupid himself, un-blindfolded for the moment and riding on a lion. I get the impression that this type of Love is downright sadistic.

After Cupid comes a whole slew of other feelings, attitudes, and states of being – Reproach, Repentance, Shame, Strife, Anger, Care, Unthriftihead*, Loss of Time, Sorrow, Change, Disloyalty, Riotous, Dread, Infirmity, Poverty, and Death.

When the parade is over, they all go back through the same door they emerged from, and it slams shut. Britomart attempts to open it, to no avail. She spends the rest of the day in the chambers, and the following night the door opens again.

She sees no one in the other room except the enchanter Busirane. He has the dame Amoret tied to a pillar, her chest still wide open. When he sees Britomart he rushes at his captive with a knife, but is foiled by her speed and badassery. She forces him to undo all the magic spells he has put on her, holding her sword over his head while he reads the charms to assure he tries no funny business. Amoret’s heart is fixed, her wound closes up, and she is physically as good as new. Britomart binds Busirane with the chains of Amoret.

As they leave the facilities Britomart notices (with some disappointment) that the rooms are all empty now. It was all an illusion. The flames are also gone.


Ending One (the 1590 edition):

Scudamour is gone! He and Britomart’s squire (her nurse, if you recall) have left in search of help.

Ending Two (the 1596 edition):

Amoret and Scudamour have a very happy reunion.

*evidently this word just means Unthriftiness, or the opposite of thriftiness, which is spendthriftiness (?).


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