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Comus 814-842

Page history last edited by nicholas Wrobel 8 years, 5 months ago

1. At the beginning of the passage, the Attendant Spirit and the brothers of the Lady rescue her from Comus. They chase Comus away, but Lady’s magically bound to the chair.  The brothers fail to get Comus's wand in order to free their sister, but Comus is able to escape with it. The Spirit criticizes the brothers, who are left without the means to free their sister. The Spirit then uses a song by the water nymph Sabrina to free the Lady because she has remained virtuous throughout Comus’ temptations to strip her from her virtue. “Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure; Whilom she was the daughter of Locrine, / That had the scepter from his father Brute” (Lines 827-829). Milton uses Sabrina because of the tragic story in the Faeire Queene by Spenser. The Lady is then turned into the Goddess of the river, now being immortal because of her resistance to temptation.


2. This passage is important to the larger work because it exemplifies the power of females, and emphasizes the important value of remaining virtuous even when temptation’s upon your doorstep. The Lady has conquered temptation because the Attendant Spirit says, “Commended her fair innocence to the flood / That stayed her flight with cross-flowing course;” (Lines 832-833). Milton favors chastity, and rewards it. The power of chastity here shows the power of females, as the other pure virgin, Sabrina, is able to free the Lady from a curse that even the brothers could not. Milton shows the power of women here, but makes the point that what gives women power is chastity. If the Lady had fallen into temptation, her survival would have been much more doubtful. Milton also makes reference to pastoral poems again in this part, by referring to Meliboeus, who was a shepherd in Vergil's Ecologue. Milton is constantly aware of the pastoral tradition, and despite the fact that this poem seems overtly religious in tone, her revival utilizes water nymphs, and when she rises she is "Goddess of the river." Milton defies an expectation that she would rise to heaven here, despite making such an overt reference to Heaven in the beginning of the poem, in which he stated "Yet some there be that by due steps aspire/To lay their just hands on that golden key/That opes the palace of eternity" (Lines 12-14). Perhaps here, the afterlife is not the traditional Christian afterlife, but rather one on this Earth. Milton's involvement of pastoral ideas shows that the power of nature is overwhelming, and there can be a transcendence achieved even on Earth regardless of religion.


3. Much of the meaning that Milton implies in this passage comes from references to figures from other literary works. He references Sabrina from the Faeire Queene, Maliboeus from Vergil, as well as Nereus, Locrine, Brute, and Guendolen. Milton uses these figures to hark back to older literary traditions, and this passage seems to echo the pastoral poems that Vergil wrote and that Milton makes clear reference to. This passage as a whole represents the climax of the masque, as we see the lady rewarded for her purity, and finally ascend to an immortal being. Comus no longer represents a threat to the Lady, and therefore she has transcended. The speaker of this passage is the Spirit, and this helps to add a neutral voice to the situation, not allowing the brothers or the Lady to fail through their speech.

Discussion Questions:


1. Milton uses the Lady and Sabrina because they represent chastity and they ultimately save themselves by the actions they’ve decided. Does Milton use this poem about chastity because he believes in female empowerment?


2. In this poem Milton reflects back on Greek and Roman literature to help create challenges, and to save it. In this poem Milton suggests the power of free will. In Greek and Roman literature the Gods and other mythological beings become involved and alter situations. That human don’t have “free will” because it was ordered by the Gods. Could it be suggested that the Lady had “free will” to evade temptations by Comus?

Comments (3)

ChelseaPepe said

at 8:05 pm on Feb 15, 2012

I've written some of 1 and 2 so far. Feel free to change whatever you like!

Eric Leonidas said

at 3:40 pm on Feb 16, 2012

I see you guys are busy working away, which is great. But honestly we're not going to get to this part of the masque today, even though the reading is due today. So, please continue to work on this up until Tuesday, and I'll look at it again then.

nicholas Wrobel said

at 3:51 pm on Feb 16, 2012

Ok, I added a little bit to this, change whatever you want.

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