Comus Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Comus Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Beasts

Comus’s power is revealed in the beginning as being his ability to turn people into beasts. The beasts still maintain some of their original physical attributes but they are completely changed at a moral level. The beast is a symbol used in the poem to describe those who don’t follow the accepted moral rules that existed during those times. Their bestiality is given by the fact that they stopped trying to deny their desires and instead they accepted them as being part of them. While the beasts don’t realize the change that happened within them, those around them can clearly see it and are afraid of it.

Forest

In many literary works, the forest is seen as a primordial place. While the city is a symbol for civilization, the forest is a symbol linked with the idea of returning to one’s original state. Cities are dominated by laws and moral principles which don’t always apply in the forest. Because of this, the place where humans can return to their status of beasts is the forest, a place not governed by human laws but rather by instincts.

The magical cup

After Comus takes the Lady into his palace, he tries to convince her to drink from his magic cup. The context lets it be understood that the cup actually symbolizes sexual desire and that by agreeing to drink from the cup, a person would no longer be controlled by rational thoughts but rather by primal desires.

Comus

Comus is presented as being a real character in the poem but he has a symbolic meaning as well. Comus is used in the poem to symbolize man’s sinful desires. Comus himself is the son of the God Bacchus who symbolizes drinking and partying and a nymph that symbolizes deception. Comus is described as being worse than his parents in the sense that the desire he symbolizes is harder to control. While one may find it easy to control the desire to consume wine, sexual desire is harder to control mainly because it is part of human’s nature. Because of this, Comus is much more dangerous than his parents and succeeds easily to deceive those around him.

Protection

Whenever the Lady’s brothers talk about the dangers she may be facing, they also talk about the fact that her Virtue will protect her and that she will be fine as long as she remains Chaste. This idea is a recurrent motif in the poem and it is based on the belief that nothing bad can happen if a woman remains morally chaste. If a woman decides to follow her desires, then she is the one responsible for what will happen to her and she is the one to blame for all her misfortunes.

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