Samson Agonistes

Topics: Tragedy, Greek chorus, Sophocles Pages: 3 (763 words) Published: April 28, 2014
George Balanikas
Professor Coiro
Culture Wars
Word Count: 767

Samson Agonistes and Christian Tragedy

Samson Agonistes can be classified as Christian tragedy rather than a Greek tragedy. In Samson Agonistes, Samson must conquer his own desires and passions before he can move on. In early Greek tragedies, the protagonist fights a god(s), whereas in Christian tragedy the protagonist must overcome his own passions and his own self before being great. Samson Agonistes is an obvious work of Christen tragedy.

Early in the poem, the Chorus reveals to the reader that Samson is indeed great, but blinded both physically and metaphorically. Milton writes, Thou art become (O worst imprisonment!). The dungeon of thyself thy Soul
(Which Men enjoying sight oft without cause complain)
Imprison'd now indeed (Milton, 155-158).” Christian tragedies often depict protagonists overcoming themselves rather than defeating god(s) before they can be ‘great’. Samson is blatantly a strong person as his power comes through his hair, but once it is cut off he loses his powers and is rendered hopeless. Samson must soon learn that he must overcome his own sufferings to understand that he needs to be great, which is a central theme in a Christian tragedy.

Samson faces two main hardships, one being of his strong hate for his captors and betrayers and the other being his personal anger at God for letting him be imprisoned. In order for Samson to reconcile with his life once and for all, he must come to terms with finding serenity in suffering. Milton writes, “Her Bond-slave; O indignity, O blot
To Honour and Religion! servil mind
Rewarded well with servil punishment! (Milton,407-413)”. Samson confesses how he lost his powers because of his desire for Dalila, and because of this God betrays him with severe punishment. We clearly see the main source of Samsons’ frustrations, as he feels deceived by not only Dalila but by God as well.

Furthermore, Samson dwells within his own pity and...
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