Introduction: Revision as Replacement
1853 Engraving of Edmund Spenser
The Third Book of The Faerie Queene, on the theme of love and chastity, introduces a new hero, Britomart, the poem's first female knight. Britomart's entrance into the poem occasions new complications in Spenser's plotting even as it infuses the poem with a new light-heartedness. Among the interlacing plotlines that she encounters, one concerns the separation and reunion of estranged lovers, Amoret and Scudamour.
Amoret first appears toward the end of "The Legend of Chastity." She is held captive by Busyrane, a wizard, whose casting of spells is often depicted as a kind of writing. Entrapped for seven months, Amoret is finally rescued by Britomart, who forces Busyrane to reverse the spell he has cast on her and then restores Amoret to Scudamour. The final stanzas of the first printing of Book III end with an image of the lovers entwined in a Hermaphroditic embrace while Britomart, the knight of chastity, stands apart.
The Second Ending of Book Three, "The Legend of Chastity"Between the first two printings of The Faerie Queene, Spenser removed the five final stanzas of "The Legend of Chastity" and replaced them with three new ones, in which Britomart and Amoret leave Busyrane's castle to find that Scudamour has already departed. In place of his description of the waiting lover, Spenser provides the reasons for Scudamour's absence. In anticipation of Book Four, "The Legend of Friendship," the image of the parting pair of female friends replaces that of the united lovers and lone figure of chastity.
This site explores Spenser's revision of the final stanzas of "The Legend of Chastity" in relation to his depictions of revision in the scenes surrounding them.