The Characters Of Samson And Dalila in Milton's Samson Agonistes Essay

The Characters Of Samson And Dalila in Milton's Samson Agonistes Essay

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The Characters Of Samson And Dalila in Milton's Samson Agonistes

 
   The character of Dalila is first described by Samson, in his opening dialogue with the Chorus, as "that specious Monster, my accomplish'd snare." He also later describes her as "fallacious, unclean, unchaste". Thus when she finally appears in person, the reader is perhaps surprised to hear the Chorus uses a simile of a pulchritudinous ship to describe Dalila, "so bedeck'd, ornate and gay". It is the first mention of her physical beauty. Neither does the Chorus merely mention it in passing; the chorus takes a total of eleven lines to describe the full extent of Dalila's beauty. The Chorus continues this extended simile, admiring her "tackle trim . . . and streamers waving". She even smells sweet, being followed by a damsel train and "amber scent of odorous perfume". It seems as if the Chorus has fallen under Dalila's spell as Samson had.

 

Samson, however, is under no such illusions. Perhaps his blindness prevents him from capitulating to her beauty, in the same way that in Greek mythology, sailors, having blocked up their ears, saw the Sirens for the evil creatures that they were, rather than be charmed to their deaths by their beautiful singing. His blindness is perhaps the reason that he has made no reference to Dalila's beauty - her seemingly only asset he is no longer able to appreciate. Unlike the Chorus, Samson is not so welcoming. He calls her a "Traitress" and bids the Chorus not to let her go near him. The Chorus, however, seems powerless to act against Dalila, as "yet on she moves". They appear to still be under the spell of Dalila's captivating beauty, this time assimilating her beauty with that of "a fair flower". ...


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Erskine-Hill, Howard. Poetry and the Realm of Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Fish, Stanley. How Milton Works. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2001.

Hale, John K. "Milton's Preface to 'Samson Agonistes.'" The Explicator. Vol. 52. No. 2. P. 73. (Winter 1994): 3 pp. Online. Internet. 20 April. 1997.

Lewalski, Barbara. The Life of John Milton. Malden: Blackwell Publishers Inc, 2000.

Martindale, Charles. John Milton and the Transformation of Ancient Epic. Totowa: Barnes and Noble Books, 1986.

Milton, John. Samson Agonistes.  In John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose. Ed. Merritt Y. Hughes. New York: Macmillan, 1957. 531-93.

Radzinowicz, Mary Ann. Towards Samson Agonistes: The Growth of Milton's Mind. Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 1978.

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