Characters

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 278

The characters of Comus by John Milton are as follows: the senior god Jove, who presides over the eternal realm of the classical gods.

Jove sends the attendant Spirit to defend virtue on earth when it is under threat. The attendant Spirit guides and protects the lost siblings in...

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The characters of Comus by John Milton are as follows: the senior god Jove, who presides over the eternal realm of the classical gods.

Jove sends the attendant Spirit to defend virtue on earth when it is under threat. The attendant Spirit guides and protects the lost siblings in the dark woods, instructs and leads the brothers to where Comus has lured their sister, he protects them from harm and invokes the Nymph Sabrina to free their virtuous sister.

The Elder Brother and the Younger Brother search for their sister in the dark wood. The Elder Brother provides guidance to the Younger Brother on how virtue is protected from evil, and to focus on hope given the choice of hope or despair. Their father is king of the land.

The Lady gets separated from her brothers at night in the woods where she is deceived by Comus to follow him. Comus's objective is to get her to drink from his cup and turn her into an animal-headed slave of her base passions. She rejects his arguments and recognizes him as a deceiver.

Comus is the son of the wine god Bacchus and the sorceress Circe. He is more powerful than Circe in his black magic, and he turns men and women that drink from his cup into animal-headed monsters with human bodies that forget their previous lives, do not recognize their fallen condition, and think they are more attractive than ever. They accompany Comus in his sensual revels.

The water Nymph Sabrina is a protectress of chastity and virtue. She comes when invoked by the attendant Spirit and her words free the Lady from the sorcerer Comus's enchantment.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 446

Comus

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

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 the divine nature of chastity, which purifies the mind and brings it to the refined state of the immortal soul. He is ready for action as well as philosophy, and he valiantly attacks Comus and breaks his magic glass.

The Second Brother

The Second Brother, a far more fearful young man. He sees his sister’s beauty as a great temptation to every evil creature and finds little comfort in his brother’s “divine philosophy.” Following the advice of the Attendant Spirit, he joins the attack on Comus to free the Lady.

The Attendant Spirit

The Attendant Spirit, a being dedicated to the preservation of the true servants of virtue. He disguises himself as Thyrsis, a shepherd, to warn the brothers of Comus’ presence in the wood and to lead them to the place where their sister is fastened motionless in the sorcerer’s enchanted chair. He calls up the nymph Sabrina to free the Lady, because he is powerless after Comus’ magic glass has been broken.

Sabrina

Sabrina, the nymph who lives in the Severn River, the legendary King Locrine’s daughter, who drowned herself to escape her stepmother’s fury. Called up from her underwater home, she sprinkles the Lady with clear water from her stream and releases her from enchantment.

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