Short summary - Samson Agonistes - John Milton

British literature summaries - 2020

Short summary - Samson Agonistes
John Milton

Samson, blinded, humiliated and scolded, languishes in captivity with the Philistines in the prison of the city of Gaza. Slave labor exhausts his body, and mental suffering torment the soul.

Day and night Samson cannot forget how glorious the hero was before, and these memories cause him bitter anguish. He recalls that the Lord announced the deliverance of Israel from the yoke of the Philistines: to liberate his people is destined for him, a blind and helpless prisoner. Samson repents of having revealed the secret of his power to Delilah, who betrayed him into the hands of enemies. However, he does not dare to doubt the word of God and cherishes hope in his heart.

On the day of the feast dedicated to Dagon, the sea deity of the Philistines, when none of the pagans works, Samson is allowed to leave the walls of his dungeon and rest. Pulling heavy chains, he goes into a secluded place and indulges in painful thoughts.

Here he is found by his friends and fellow tribesmen, who came from Estaol and Zora, Samson’s homelands, and try to comfort the unfortunate fellow as much as they can. They convince the sufferer not to complain about the fishing of the Most High and not to reproach themselves, but they are surprised that Samson always preferred the Philistines to the women of Israel. The defeated hero explains to them that this was prompted by the secret voice of God, commanding him to fight enemies and use every opportunity to lull their vigilance.

Samson blames the rulers of Israel who did not support him and did not oppose the Philistines when he won glorious victories. They even decided to hand him over to his enemies in order to save his homeland from the invaders. Samson allowed the Philistines to bind themselves, and then easily broke the fetters and killed all the pagans with their donkey jaw. If then the leaders of Israel decided to march against them, the final victory would be won.

The old man Manoah, father of Samson, comes. He is dejected by the miserable condition of his son, in which everyone is accustomed to seeing an invincible warrior. But Samson does not allow him to murmur against God and blames only himself for his troubles. Manoah informs his son that he is going to bother the Philistine rulers about his ransom.

Manoah is going to go to them today, when all the Philistines celebrate Thanksgiving to Dagon, who, they believe, delivered them from Samson's hand. But the defeated hero does not want to live, always remembering his shame, and prefers death. The father persuades him to agree to a ransom and give everything to God's will and leaves.

Samson's wife, the beautiful Delilah, appears and begs him to listen to her: she cruelly repents that she succumbed to the persuasion of her fellow tribesmen and gave them the secret of his strength. But only love moved her: she was afraid that Samson would leave her, as he had left his first wife, a Gentile from Fimnaf. Tribesmen promised Delilah only to capture Samson, and then give him to her. Samson could live in her house, and she would enjoy his love without fear of rivals.

She promises Samson to persuade the Philistine chiefs to be allowed to take him home: she will look after him and please him in everything. But Samson does not believe Delilah’s repentance and angrily rejects her offer. Delilah, wounded by Samson’s refusal and contempt, renounces her husband and leaves.

Garafa appears, a giant from the Philistine city of Geth. He regrets that he did not have the chance to face off with Samson when he was still sighted and free. Garafa taunts the defeated hero and tells him that God left Samson, Samson, with only his legs shackled, calls the boastful Garaf to fight, but he does not dare to approach the angry prisoner and leaves.

A servant of the temple of Dagon appears and demands that Samson appear at the festival before the Philistine nobility and show everyone his strength. Samson scornfully refuses and sends the minister away.

However, when he comes again, Samson, sensing a secret impulse in his soul, agrees to come to a pagan holiday and show his strength in the temple of Dagon. He believes that the God of Israel wants this, and anticipates that this day will cover his name with indelible disgrace, or unfading glory.

Samson is removed from the shackles and promised him freedom if he shows humility and humility. Entrusting himself to God, Samson says goodbye to his friends and fellow tribesmen. He promises them nothing to shame either his people or his God and goes after the minister.

Manoah comes and tells the Israelites that there is hope that he will be able to redeem his son. His speech is interrupted by a terrible noise and someone's screams. Having decided that the Philistines rejoice, making fun of the humiliation of his son, Manoah continues his story. But he is interrupted by the appearance of the messenger. He is a Jew, like them. Arriving in Gaza on business, he witnessed Samson's latest feat. The messenger is so amazed at what happened that at first he does not find words. But having recovered, he tells the assembled brethren how Samson, who was brought to a theater full of Philistine nobility, brought down the roof of the building and, together with his enemies, died under the rubble.