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

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

Length: 2388 words (6.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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". ...

... middle of paper ...

...le Milton. New York: Penguin, 1977 [1949].

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.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Free Will in John Milton's Samson Agonistes Essay

- Free Will in John Milton's Samson Agonistes John Milton’s Samson Agonistes is based on the story of Samson, an Israelite hero in the Old Testament who falls from grace. In this work Milton shapes his version around the issue of accountability, whether Samson or God is responsible for his actions. Milton displays Samson’s accountability by contrasting his God-given strength with his self-effected weakness. When Samson was born, God gave him extraordinary physical strength. The very fact that God puts prohibitions on Samson implies that there is an element of free choice....   [tags: Samson Agonistes]

Powerful Essays
802 words (2.3 pages)

Essay Christian Tragedy and Samson Agonistes

- Samson Agonistes is Milton’s final work, and as such is remarkable for its lack of finality. The poem is maddeningly oblique; Milton gives no answers, and barely poses any questions. However, Milton succeeds in writing Christian tragedy in Samson Agonistes by presenting the ease with which a Christian can be guided away from a real interaction with his own faith. Samson’s blindness is the blindness of all Christians who seek the path of salvation without divine guidance, and his tragedy is the tragedy of all those who convince themselves they have found it on their own....   [tags: Literature]

Powerful Essays
1938 words (5.5 pages)

Comparing Shakespeare's Play, Hamlet and Milton's Play, Samson Agonistes

- Comparing Shakespeare's Play, Hamlet and Milton's Play, Samson Agonistes: The Mental Awakenings of Hamlet and Samson In William Shakespeare's play Hamlet and in John Milton's play Samson Agonistes, both title characters undergo an intellectual metamorphosis, each becoming more and more aware of the power of his mind as he learns to master it. Despite a difference of almost 50 years between the writing of each of these plays, Hamelet being composed in 1601 and Samson Agonistes not being completed until circa 1646-1648, both reflect a preoccupation of the 17th century shared by both authors, the emergence of the mind and the human reason....   [tags: Comparison Compare Contrast Essays]

Powerful Essays
2523 words (7.2 pages)

Milton: The Poet Essay

- John Milton was born in London in 1608 (Merriman). His grandfather was a Roman Catholic who had disowned Milton's father when he turned Protestant (Merriman). The boy was sent to St. Paul's school, and he learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and began to try to write poetry (Merriman). In 1625 he enrolled at Christ's College, Cambridge, clashed with his tutor the following year and was suspended, returned and was given another tutor, and graduated on schedule (Merriman). The University in those days still undertook to teach largely by repeat memorization, and Milton thought his training there of little value (Merriman)....   [tags: John Milton, Biography, Writer]

Powerful Essays
1357 words (3.9 pages)

Essay about Paradise Lost, by John Milton

- In Paradise Lost, Milton writes the creation story from the perspective of three different characters: Eve, Raphael, and Adam, in that order. Eve’s story tells of her creation and her interest in herself rather than in Adam. Adam’s story tells the creation of animals and then of Eve from his rib. Raphael’s story is more of a warning to Adam to make sure that Eve does not eat from the tree of knowledge. Raphael is sent by God because he is omniscient and knows that Satan’s snake will tempt her. Analyzing from the perspective of the already fallen world, it is difficult for us to see how Raphael is doing much more than simply following God’s orders and warning Adam of Eve’s future actions....   [tags: paradaise lost, milton]

Powerful Essays
923 words (2.6 pages)

Adam in Milton's Paradise Lost Essay

- Adam in "Paradise Lost": Fate's Ruler - and Subject A central problem in John Milton's "Paradise Lost" in the theological issue of free will versus fate, a traditionally much-debated question. Free will is the condition of having control or direction over fate or destiny; the individual shapes his life and future through his actions. The opposing view, complete lack of free will (made famous by John Calvin), is predestination, which expresses the idea that our futures have been foreseen long before our existences, so our actions are preordained, and our paths chosen for us....   [tags: John Milton]

Powerful Essays
1602 words (4.6 pages)

Milton's Satan Essay example

- Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost is a complex character meant to be the evil figure in the epic poem. Whenever possible Satan attempts to undermine God and the Son of God who is the true hero of the story. Throughout the story Milton tells the readers that Satan is an evil character, he is meant not to have any redeeming qualities, and to be shown completely as an unsympathetic figure. Satan’s greatest sins are pride and vanity in thinking he can overthrow God, and in the early part of the poem he is portrayed as selfish while in Heaven where all of God’s angels are loved and happy....   [tags: Literary Characters]

Powerful Essays
1953 words (5.6 pages)

John Milton's Life and Writing Essay

- John Milton's Life and Writing John Milton did not just write poetry. He put his life, his thoughts, into words. Milton began his life in Cheapside, England, because his father’s wealthy family was Roman Catholic and John Milton Sr., Milton’s father, decided to become Protestant, therefore he was disinherited (Muir). However, the Milton family did not remain poor, John Milton Sr. was able to establish a wealthy family once more. He became a scrivener, which is a law writer, and was also a music composer on the side (Liukkonen)....   [tags: John Milton biographies Essays]

Powerful Essays
1699 words (4.9 pages)

Milton’s Paradise Lost Essay

- Milton’s Paradise Lost has been praised as being the greatest English epic of all time, most stunningly in its author's depiction of the parents of humanity, Adam and Eve. How Milton chose to portray the original mother and father has been a focus of much criticism with contemporary readers. One of the main subjects of these comments is in reference to Eve, who, according to many, is a trivial character that is most definitely inferior to her mate. Nonetheless, many do not recognize that, after the fateful Fall, she becomes a much more evolved character....   [tags: Milton’s Paradise Lost]

Powerful Essays
4358 words (12.5 pages)

Essay on Samson Agonistes

- The character that once was Samson Agonistes, “herotic renowned/, No strength of man, or fierest Wild beast, could withstand: Who tore the lion as the lion tears the kid;” (Samson 125-127) is no longer. Instead he is a prisoner of his enemies chained and blinded by them, deceived by his own wife. In this story we see how Samson, after such heretic activities, traces his steps back and speaks of his down fall. The chorus, his friends, console him encouraging him to speak about his life and try to bring him out of his darkness....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1062 words (3 pages)