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Literature / Saint George and the Dragon

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Saint George

A book by Margaret Hodges, a partial retelling of the epic poem The Faerie Queene written by Edmund Spenser, specifically the portion about the legendary dragon-slayer Saint George.

This book contains examples of:

  • The Champion: Una set out alone from the safety of the castle walls to look for a champion who would face the terrible dragon. As a result, she returns with a knight who pledges to fight it for her.
  • Damsel Errant: Princess Una traveled a long, long way before she found the Red Cross Knight.
  • Heaven: The old hermit gives the knight a glimpse of a shining city in the clouds which is clearly this. He says that eventually the knight will go there, but only after he's done his duty on Earth.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: The knight is smitten with red-haired Una after he sees her when she's changed into a fine dress on coming home, and he readily agrees to marry her, becoming king after her father (once he fulfills his quest, that is), but beforehand the knight didn't appear to have noticed her at all that way.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Twice the knight is gravely wounded. Both times he's looked after and prayed for by Una, recovering to fight again.
  • Knight Errant: The story begins with the Red Cross Knight riding across a plain, bound on a great adventure, sent by the Queen of the Fairies to fight the dragon.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: The Red Cross Knight is champion for Princess Una, traveling with her to slay the dragon which has been terrorizing her land. He makes certain that she's well back from harm when the battle begins. After the king rewards him, he says never to forget the poor and gives away the gifts. He does accept Una as his wife and inheriting the king's crown however.
  • Lady and Knight: Una is a gentle, beautiful princess who gets the knight (initially unnamed) to slay a dragon who has been terrorizing her father's kingdom. He (the future Saint George) is a brave, steadfast man who keeps his vow to her and also the Fairy Queen who he's sworn six years of service. They end up married with him inheriting the crown, though not before he's fulfilled that vow.
  • Loved I Not Honor More: The brave knight tells the king that he can't stay because he has sworn to give knight's service to the Fairy Queen for six years. He marries Una, but still rides away to fulfill his oath at the end. It says he came back later to be with her and rule after the king.
  • No Name Given: Zigzagged. The Red Cross Knight at first doesn't know his birth name or where he had been born, until a good old hermit informs him that he was born to be Saint George of Merry England. Una's parents also aren't named, nor was the dwarf or the old hermit.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The dragon mostly fits the Western motif since it has an evil nature, a scaly, serpentine massive body, horns, huge bat-like wings and forelimbs, but also breathes a poisonous gas, not fire, with a barbed tail as well.
  • Paladin: The Red Cross Knight is one, a heroic warrior on a quest to slay an evil dragon, having the eponymous symbol on his tabard and shield which denotes that he's a specifically Christian hero (being the future Saint George).
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Una looks lovely after she's changed from her dark, unattractive cloak into a fine dress after she returns home, and in the illustration the knight can be seen practically swooning on seeing her.
  • Standard Hero Reward: The king tells the brave knight that he has promised that the dragonslayer should have Una for his wife, and be king after him, which the knight accepts.