Samson as a Tragic Hero Term Paper

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First, he burns their crops. When they seek revenge for that, Samson defeats an untold number of them. All of these incidents are merely preludes to the first real battle, which occurs when Samson is a prisoner facing overwhelming odds. The Philistines demand that the Israelites hand over Samson, so they bind him with ropes and hand him over. However, "The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men." (Judges 15: 14-15).

Furthermore, Samson is initially successful over his second wife, Delilah's attempts to betray him to the Philistines. She repeatedly asks him for the secret to his strength and he repeatedly gives her false answers. However, each time that he gives her a false answer, she attempts to use that answer to betray him to the Philistines. Despite knowing that Delilah is actively attempting to betray him, Samson still allows her to persuade him to tell her the source of his strength: his uncut hair. In this manner, Samson's tragic flaw sets the stage for his eventual defeat by the Philistine's. He is not defeated by the Philistines because of the loss of his hair, but because he is betrayed by a woman. This betrayal is evidence of his weakness because he was betrayed by his first wife, he was almost killed while visiting a prostitute, and Delilah, herself, made several attempts to betray him to the Philistines.

However, it is important to realize that Samson's tragic flaw and his tragic weakness were not the same thing. Samson's tragic flaw was his desire for women. Repeatedly, despite knowing that he was doing something foolish and risky, Samson placed his safety in danger for the sake of a woman. His tragic weakness was that his hair was the source of his strength. Unlike his tragic flaw, Samson had no control over the source of his strength; God ordained that Samson's unshorn hair would give him strength, God provided Samson with his unnatural strength, and God left Samson when his hair was cut. However, Samson's tragic weakness would have remained unknown to the Philistines if Samson's tragic flaw had not caused him to reveal the source of his strength to Delilah.

In fact, it is Samson's tragic flaw, not his tragic weakness, which keeps him from completely prevailing over the Philistines. Samson's weakness for his first wife began a scenario of escalating hostilities. Samson's wife's betrayal would have cost him money and pride, but his vengeance against them was deadly. As a result, they took his wife's fidelity and then her life. Clearly, Samson's early victories, though significant, are incomplete. In fact, had Samson been able to eradicate the Philistines, he would not have faced any danger in Gaza while visiting the prostitute or when married to Delilah. However, he did not, and his enemies were able to plot against him, determine his weakness, and kill him. However, Samson differs from the traditional tragic hero in that he does eventually triumph against his enemies. Though they have blinded him and believe that they took his strength, Samson was able to kill many of them by crashing a tower down upon him. However, his victory came at a terrible price; to kill so many Philistines, Samson had to kill himself.

Looking at the elements of Samson's story, it is easy to see why he should be considered a tragic hero. Samson was set apart by God as a champion, and imbued with special powers for that purpose. This divine recognition and protection made Samson a hero. However, Samson had a weakness for women, which proved to be his fatal flaw. Repeatedly he trusted women who betrayed him. The tragic flaw opened up the opportunity for his nemesis, the Philistines, against whom he had initially been very successful, to exploit his tragic weakness, which was that his strength was linked to his hair. However tragic, Samson remained the hero of the story; he eventually triumphed against several Philistines, but killed himself in the process. Because Samson had many of the other elements of a tragic hero, and died in the commission of his divine duty, it is clear…[continue]

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