- Some say no evil thing that walks by night,
In fog or fire, by lake or moorish fen,
Blue meagre hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost,
That breaks his magic chains at curfew time,
No goblin or swart faery of the mine,
Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity.
A Mask presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634: on Michelmas night, before the Rt Hon. Iohn Earl of Bridgewater, Viscount Brackly, Lord President of Wales, and one of His Maiesties most honorable privie councill (spelling is correct) is a play written by John Milton, about a woman captured by Comus, a minor god of wine and lust, and rescued by her two brothers and a beneficient spirit in disguise.
The plot is similar to Circe trying to trap Odysseus in The Odyssey, but with the genders reversed.
Full text here.
- Arcadia: Both Comus and the Attendent Spirit appear as shepherds.
- Baleful Polymorph: The power, of course, of Comus's mother Circe, and of Comus himself, who enchants his victims so that they have the heads of animals.
- Commonality Connection: Between Sabrina and the Lady.
- Cool, Clear Water: Sabrina's actual introduction is preceded by a description of how calm and beautiful the lake she guards is, so the reader already kind of knows that she's a good person.
- Dances and Balls: Comus urges his followers to this.
- Deity of Human Origin: Sabrina, the goddess of the river Severn.
- Healing Herb: The spirit attributes its knowledge to a shepherd boy who knows this.
- Light Is Good: Virtue's own radiant light.
- Long Title: The full title is actually A Mask presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634: on Michelmas night, before the Rt Hon. Iohn Earl of Bridgewater, Viscount Brackly, Lord President of Wales, and one of His Maiesties most honorable privie councill (spelling is correct), but is more commonly called by the One-Word Title.
- One-Word Title: The full title is thirty-three words long, but is obviously more commonly known by the name of the antagonist.
- Our Angels Are DifferentA thousand liveried angels lackey her
- Our Dragons Are Different:"the guard
Of dragon-watch with unenchanted eye"
- Rule of Symbolism: The herb has a golden flower "in another country".
- Sacred Hospitality: The sister praises it among the poor.
- Virgin Power: Why the sister has little to fear from Comus.
- Wicked Stepmother: The Back Story of a magical herb.