The Disappointment

The Disappointment Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Heroic language (motif)

In describing Lisander’s attempted seduction of Cloris, the poem uses heroic language. The language of war and battle is usually associated with the Greek and Roman epics, such as The Iliad and The Aeneid. Lisander’s pursuit of Cloris is described as a “conquest.” Similarly, Lisander is described as brave and “unus’d to Fear.” Cloris's body is described as the “Spoils” of war and as “unguarded.” The use of this language is ironic, since Lisander is shown to be very far indeed from the conventional image of the masculine and virile warrior.

Sacrifice and religious language (motif)

Cloris's vagina is described as an “altar [...] Where Gods of Love do sacrifice.” Elsewhere, the language of “sacrifice” and “victim” is used to describe her. This may be an allusion to sacrifices of women in Greek mythology, as when the king Agamemnon sacrifices his eldest daughter, Iphigenia, to please Artemis. In addition, Cloris is described as “Offering her Virgin-Innocence” to Lisander as a sacrifice. Yet Lisander is ultimately “Unable to perform the Sacrifice” and the sacred act remains incomplete.