This paper examines the complex relationship between chastity and consummation presented in Book Three of The Faerie Queene. By recasting the Ovidian myth of Venus and Adonis, Spenser creates a definition of chastity that is based in the bond of natural emotion that includes sexual expression without the damaging effects of lust. Venus and Adonis are the first to enact love based on this definition and exemplify perfection in their expression and acceptance of love. From their example, all other lovers in Book Three act in favor of or against the notion of selfless and chaste love. Chapter two details Britomart’s quest to find Artegall. Like the love between Venus and Adonis, she similarly focuses her desires on creating a chaste relationship with Artegall. As she is the protector of chastity, she is able to exercise her training as a knight and defend the qualities of pure love from the damaging effects of lust. The damages of lust are most apparent in the House of Busirane. By kidnapping Amoret, Busirane becomes the embodiment of the damages of lust, and the marriage he attempts to create with Amoret is a defiled marriage based in lust rather than purity. Through his warped worship of Cupid, he becomes a corrupted version of Scudamour and intends to corrupt Amoret as well. Britomart’s rescue of Amoret proves that chaste love is a more powerful force than lust and has the power to heal the damages created by impure desires.
Date of publication
Dr. David Strong, Dr. Carolyn Tilghman, Dr. Hui Wu
Master of Arts degree in English Literature
McClenny, Hayley, "The Desire for Chaste Love in Book Three of The Faerie Queene" (2019). English Department Theses. Paper 22.