Thursday, January 23, 2014


An impasse had been reached in the discussion between Comus and the Lady when her brothers arrive to rescue her. Although the Brothers secure Comus' glass and break it, Comus escapes with his wand without which the Lady cannot be freed from her chair. The attendant Spirit comes up with another strategy to secure the Lady's release.

From the beginning of the Mask, we have seen intimations that the Lady's condition is a consequence of her own mental disturbance. She is not of one mind in regard to remaining a child and becoming a woman. If she had drunk from Comus' cup she would have submitted to him on his terms. When that temptation is removed she is still immobilized by indecision. Because Milton leaves it unclear what prevents her from resolving her dilemma, readers are left to speculate. 

The image created for the 6th illustration in the Thomas Set reinforces the idea that the Lady's mind is confused by showing a cloud which encompasses her and includes the figments of imagination which accompanied Comus. The charming wand has not been secured by the brothers and continues to produce disturbing images. Comus has reverted  to his naked state in which be appeared in the first illustration. His role in the mask is finished.

Original in Huntington Gallery
Milton's Comus
Illustration 6, Thomas Set
A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634
John Milton

[Stage Direction]
"The Brothers rush in with Swords drawn, wrest his Glass out of his hand, and break it against the ground; his rout make signe of resistance, but are all driven in; The attendant Spirit comes in." 

Line 814
What, have you let the false enchanter scape?
O ye mistook, ye should have snatcht his wand
And bound him fast; without his rod  revers't,
And backward mutters of dissevering power,
We cannot free the Lady that sits here
In stony fetters fixt and motionless;
Yet stay, be not disturb'd, now I bethink me,
Som other means I have which may be us'd,"

In Visions of the Daughters of Albion Oothoon was able to articulate the process through which she went in understanding the abuse she experienced. After soul- searching she arrived at self-acceptance. Listen as Oothoon struggles with her sexual dilemma following her rape by her betrothed's brother.

Visions of Daughters of Albion, Plate 2 ,(E 45) 
"The Daughters of Albion hear her woes. & eccho back her sighs.   

Why does my Theotormon sit weeping upon the threshold;
And Oothoon hovers by his side, perswading him in vain:
I cry arise O Theotormon for the village dog
Barks at the breaking day. the nightingale has done lamenting.
The lark does rustle in the ripe corn, and the Eagle returns     
From nightly prey, and lifts his golden beak to the pure east;
Shaking the dust from his immortal pinions to awake
The sun that sleeps too long. Arise my Theotormon I am pure.
Because the night is gone that clos'd me in its deadly black.
They told me that the night & day were all that I could see;     
They told me that I had five senses to inclose me up.
And they inclos'd my infinite brain into a narrow circle,
And sunk my heart into the Abyss, a red round globe hot burning
Till all from life I was obliterated and erased.
Instead of morn arises a bright shadow, like an eye              
In the eastern cloud: instead of night a sickly charnel house;
That Theotormon hears me not! to him the night and morn
Are both alike: a night of sighs, a morning of fresh tears;"

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