Edmund Spenser – The Faerie Queene (ctd.)

The offspring of the monster tries, as before, to hide in her mouth, but when they see it’s impossible they start instead to drink her blood until they burst. So this is how all these nasty Catholic lies end, the allegory implies, once you destroy their root cause. The Lady congratulates the Redcrosse Knight and wishes him many more successful adventures. They follow the beaten path and finally they find their way out of the forest. After travelling for some time they come across a hermit, dressed in black, with a long beard and beads, beating his breast. Now that’s interesting – Spenser’s Protestant readers probably assume with him that the hermit, being a representative of Catholicism is bad news, but the Knight and the Lady operate within the framework of the knightly romance, where a hermit is usually a good guy. So they greet each other politely and the Knight asks the hermit whether he knows of any strange adventures abroad (i.e. in the wide world). The hermit answers that being a hermit, of course he doesn’t, but in fact there is a very bad man laying waste to the whole country here. The Lady advises that they should rather have some rest before they think of any new adventures, as the evening is approaching and the knight is tired after his battle. The hermit agrees and invites them to stay at his place, which is a lowly hermitage, with a chapel nearby and a clear stream.

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