Opposed to Britomart's chaste constancy stand various examples of salacity, such as Lady Malecasta at the Castle Joyous.
Lady Malecasta presides over the castle, with a pack of faded busy-bodies from The Romance of the Rose as her liegemen.
Here, at Malecasta's, the chaste knight is paradoxically placed in an overtly sexual environment.
At Malecasta's, the revelers "make loue & merriment," but Britomart "auoided quite." (23) Joanna Thompson argues that "Britomart's contact with lust ...
She argues that The Faerie Queene in particular engages sixteenth-century cultural anxiety about female interpretive autonomy and the tendency to sexualize women's reading, using the Castle Joyous and Hellenore-Paridell episodes in book 3 to argue that Spenser endorses Britomart's correct, patriarchal reading of romance, Petrarchan, Ovidian, and historical genres, and yet presents the possibility of more subversive reading in characters such as Malecasta
Using Thomas Wright's treatise, The Passions of the Mind, Broaddus shows how Spenser contrasts the virtuous Britomart to the wicked Malecasta. Whilst the former governs her sexuality properly, the operation occurring from the vegetal soul upwards, storing the seed in the testicles (available in different forms to both sexes), expressing desire in the higher faculties, and controlling sexuality through imagination 'of a virtuous loved one', Malecasta initiates her desire in the higher faculties, corrupted by inconstancy, which then 'goad the appetites into action' (32).
Often, Broaddus does provide insightful and useful analyses, notably of the House of Busyrane, which suggests that Busyrane stands, like Malecasta, as a form of corrupted love who is to be contrasted to the good love engendered by Cupid.
The overall argument accommodates some intriguing local readings; the comparison between the description of Malecasta
's chamber and that of Madeline's in The Eve of St Agnes is an example, even if Keats has altered Spenser's manner so much (especially, as Kucich observes, with regard to the role of the narrator) that comparison is a treacherous exercise.
, the lady of delight, beautiful and wanton, who entertains Britomart in Castle Joyous.
She subdues them and enters the castle, where Queen Malecasta
(Lust), thinking her a man, tries to seduce her.