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“A Mask” is one of John Milton’s fabulous works that reveal his love for art. In it, Milton presents a conflict between lust and chastity with the conflict between the Lady and Comus who succeed in luring her into his captivity. The poem revolves around the exchange of Comus and the Lady as she refuses to give in to the advances made by Comus. Milton’s poem does stand out because of its significance during the Medieval Period. In addition, the use of various stylistic devices in the poem denotes Milton’s ability to employ various literary styles. With a focus on writing a compelling poem, Milton makes use of various stylistic devices, such as imagery, meter, personification, meter, ambiguity, and spelling of words, to improve on his work.
Allusion is one of the stylistic devices that Milton has used in his work. Allusion is a style which allows for the use of mythical or historical literature in a poem. In the reading, Comus mentions “Scylla”, a mythical nymph, that is in the form of a dangerous island made up of rocks near Sicily. Moreover, Comus also mentions Sirens in the passage, which represent beautiful nymphs that often drew sailors to the dangers island made of rock. The use of this allusion helps Comus to refer to the charming nature of this object in a way that helps draw a comparison between charming nature of the “mortal mixture of earth’s mould” ,who is the Lady. Another allusion used in reading is “Charybdis.” This allusion creates an impression of how the Lady was wary of Comus’s advances making her act like a violent whirlpool - Charybdis.
The reading of the passage brings out the various images that have been used to reinforce the meaning of the work. The statement “how sweetly did they float upon the wings” creates a mental image that makes the reader imagine how the sound moved in the air. Besides, the “empty-vaulted night” is another imagery that makes readers have a picture of the silence that characterized the night. This experience adds to the strength of Milton’s works because it helps create more meaning for the interaction between Comus and the Lady. In the passage, imagery can also be seen in the statement “and lap it in Elysium,” which helps readers to visualize the potential of the Lady in resisting Comus, yet she still managed to captivate him exceedingly. Indeed, the passage illustrates how Milton has employed imagery in “A Mask” to help readers in visualizing the Lady who Comus describes as “walking bliss” (Milton 96).
Apart from the use of imagery in “A Mask,” Milton has employed meter to create rhythm in various lines of the play (Milton 96). The reading of the passage gives evidence of the use of rising meter. For instance, the words “mortal” and “mixture a falling” are characterized by unstressed syllables that are followed by stressed syllables that make them create some rhythm. Elsewhere in the passage, there is evidence that some of the words use falling meter. The presence of stressed syllables succeeded by unstressed syllables characterizes these sentences. For instance, the words “barking”, and “murmured” illustrate how Milton incorporates dactyl meter in his work. The use of various meters in plays or poems helps in pointing at the direction of the play. In this example, the “A Mask” appears to have a falling and a rising rhythm. In using these forms of rhythm, Milton succeeds in adding beauty and style to the various lines. Ambiguity is another stylistic device that has a role in “A Mask”. In the passage, one of the lines has been used in an ambiguous way. In the lines “and fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause:” and “yet they in pleasing slumber lull'd the sense”, there is an ambiguity that arises due to the potential meaning of the statements. It is a challenge for readers to tell a difference between a “soft applause” and “pleasing slumber.” Even despite this ambiguity, readers are left to make out the meaning by themselves.
Personification is one of the literary element that Milton used to write “A Mask”. In this passage, Comus narrates how his mother Cirle and “Sirens three” sang and would “take the prison'd soul” because of their singing. The use of this statement clearly indicates that Milton used personification to build more on the meaning of his work. This statement is certainly a personification because hills do not sing nor do they take souls captive. In addition, Comus makes mention of “waking bliss,” which is another example of personification in the passage (Milton 96). With the use of personification, Milton strengthens the play because it contributes to the illustration of various objects in the passage
The spelling of words in this play holds a central role in shaping the style of the work. In the passage running from line 244-264, some words such as “somthing”, “hidd’n”, and “darkness” have been altered to spell differently. The use of these words not only adds to the beauty of the passage, but also to the rhythm of the work (Milton 96). Certainly, the use of this technique contributes to the literary beauty of Milton’s work—“A Mask.”
In conclusion, Milton’s work “A Mask” has stood the test of time because of its credibility as true works of art. In “A Mask”, various stylistic devices have been used to add meaning to the work. Milton used imagery through lines such as “how sweetly did they float upon the wings.” Allusion also exists in the play, particularly with the naming of mythical island in Sicily. Milton has also used personification to give animate attributes to some of the objects in his work. The passage is also characterized by ambiguity that gives readers an opportunity to interpret the meaning of various lines. Along with misspelt words, the passage stands out as a masterpiece.