They embody the classical idea of a fairytale witch, and both remain unnamed throughout the poem.
The witch torments Florimell in several ways, including sending a hideous beast after Florimell.
The son, on the other hand, is in love with Florimell, and becomes distraught when he believes that Florimell has died at the hands of his mother’s beast.
The False Florimell
To calm her son’s woes, the witch creates a false Florimell, and exact copy, whom she gives to her son.
Unfortunately, the false Florimell doesn’t stay with the son long, as she is eventually taken away by Braggadochio.
It’s important to remember, in this context, that witches were legitimately thought to exist in Edmund Spenser’s time, and this character would have been seen as a frightful representation of lust and satanic ritual. Just a few centuries earlier, there were widespread witchhunts that would have fueled the general unease regarding witches in the 16th century.
See our complete list of Arthurian characters for more entries like this one.
- Norris Lacy, Geoffrey Ashe, Debra Mancoff – The Arthurian Handbook (Second Edition)
- Alan Lupack – The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend
- Ronan Coghlan – The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Arthurian Legends
- Anonymous – Lancelot-Grail, the French Vulgate
- Sir Thomas Malory – Le Morte d’Arthur