Comus (KOH-muhs), the sorcerer son of Bacchus and Circe who transforms men into animals’ shapes with a magic potion and leads this herd of beasts in nightly revels and rites of Hecate. He captures the Lady and tries to lure her into his control by persuasively and eloquently urging her to emulate the generous, unstinting bounty of nature by permitting the enjoyment of her beauty while she is young.
The Lady, a young noblewoman. Separated from her brothers in a wood, she is frightened by the sounds of Comus’ revels, by “beckn’ing shadows dire, and airy tongues that syllable men’s names on Sands and Shores and desert Wildernesses.” She places her trust in Providence and in her own virtue. She counters Comus’ plea that she make the most of her beauty while it lasts with her own view of nature as a power that bestows its blessings according to “sober laws and holy dictate of spare Temperance.” She finds her strongest defense in “the sublime notion and high mystery that must be utter’d to unfold the sage and serious doctrine of Virginity.”
The Elder Brother
The Elder Brother, her companion, who is, like his sister, convinced of the supernatural power of virtue and wisdom as defenses against all evils. Explaining his inclination to be hopeful, rather than afraid, after the Lady’s disappearance, he speaks rhapsodically of...
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