Comus, Illustrated by Arthur Rackham
Arthur Rackham’s (b. 1887-1939) influence in the history of illustration is undeniable. Many contemporary artists, illustrators, and filmmakers reveal obvious traces in their work of Rackham’s fantasy-driven style. Comus is a masque written by John Milton, the greatest English poet besides Shakespeare. Rackham may have felt an affinity to the great poet, as a fellow country-man. The masque is a semi-allegorical portrayal of sin, or temptation, in the character of Comus, and chastity or temperance, in the character of Lady. Despite Comus’s attempts to trick Lady into drinking a magical cup (representing sexual pleasure), Lady refuses to give in to the sinful Comus. Comus challenges Lady in various other ways, such as arguing that desire is natural to a human being, but Lady will not be seduced. The rest of the masque involves the Attendant Spirit, an angelic figure, who comes to rescue her.
Thanks to MF for putting this on your Posterous!