Samson Agonistes and Paradise Lost compares the similarities and the differences between the character of Samson in Samson Agonistes and Adam in Paradise Lost based on pride, blindness, love, maturity and worldly understanding. The paper also highlights the specific text from each of the novels.
Comparison Between Samson Agonistes
And Paradise Lost
None of the English writers of the past have had more intrinsic alliance with the chronicle of their era then John Milton. Although some of his most eminent works have fallen into political controversy, but it is these works produced by him which not only throw light upon the coexisting events of his age but upon the present age as well. During his lifetime Milton had deep liking for prose writing. Most of his writings can be categorized under the heading of religion, Episcopacy, education, divorce, freedom of press and on the existing monarchy system of his time. Milton's work was greatly influenced by Homer, Ovid, Virgil and Shakespeare. His most distinguished works are considered to be Samson Agonistes and Paradise Lost, published in 1761. As both plays demonstrate the tragedies in the lives of the main characters, it teaches a profound lesson to mankind and the laws of the world. Samson plays the main role in Samson Agonistes and the story in Paradise Lost revolves around Adam.
The play, Samson Agonistes opens with the blind Samson being imprisoned in the jails of Gaza there to labor as in a common work-house, on a Festival day, in the general cessation from labor, comes forth into the open Air, to a place nigh, somewhat retired there to sit a while and bemoan his condition (Judy Boss, Samson Agonistes). There family members and friends visit him. Later an officer comes to request for his presence at the feast before the lords but he refuses. Later convinced by his conscience he decides to go.
Paradise Lost opens with Satan holding a meeting in Hell with his accomplices, conspiring against God. There they come to know about a creature known as Man who God has created, which is not as powerful as the angels but is very much like by God. Satan and his accomplices decide to set on a mission to seek revenge from God by convincing Man against Him. The Man in the play is Adam who is a creature made to praise God and is submissive to Him. He later falls in love with Eve who has been created for him by God to wither away his loneliness. Both plays present a saga of good and evil, God's wishes for and against mankind and of tragedy and triumph. The characters of both the plays can greatly be compared on the points of pride, their love for their heroines, their blindness and their understanding of the world.
Samson's pride is seen in the beginning of the play when Samson while relaxing from the laborious work is thinking about his glorious past and the honor he was once blessed with. He cannot believe his present condition and the pains he is exhorted too. In the play, Samson states that instead of living a life of servitude, he was promised to lead a role similar to that of Israel i.e. he was born to lead. He sympathizes his life of obscurity; instead of his playing a great role against all evil is bounded by shackles in the prison of Gaza, blinded and helpless. While he boasts about his mission, which God subjected him to, he also blames and complains to God for putting him in such misery. He says,
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am now." And Why was my breeding ordered and prescribed
As of a person separate to God,
Designed for great exploits, if I must die
Betrayed, captived, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze,
To grind in brazen fetters under task
With this heaven - gifted strength? O. glorious strength,
Put to the labour of a beast, debased
Lower than bond - slave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver!
Ask for this great Deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke (John Milton, Samson Agonistes, Part I).
He constantly speaks of himself as a special missionary of God sent on earth to accomplish several tasks and thus save mankind from corruption and vices. Samson says,
Whom God hath of his special favour raised
As their deliverer? If he aught begin,
How frequent to desert him and at last
To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds! (John Milton, Samson Agonistes, Part I).
While talking to his father, Samson once again praises himself as the divine messenger of God especially chosen to destroy enemies. He considers himself above all other men gifted by God with the mightiest strength. Samson says, was his nursling once and choice delight,
His destined from the womb,
Promised by heavenly message twice descending.
Under his special eye
Abstemious I grew up and thrived amain;
He led me on to mightiest deeds,
Above the nerve of mortal arm,
Against the Uncircumcised, our enemies:
But now hath cast me off as never known,
And to those cruel enemies,
Whom I by his appointment had provoked,
Left me all helpless, with the irreparable loss
Of sight, reserved alive to be repeated
The subject of their cruelty or scorn (John Milton, Samson Agonistes, Part II).
Samson's pride is once again seen when his wife Dalila comes to visit him in the prison to seek his forgiveness. He is stubborn in forgiving her and blames her for hating him when all the other men of the country honored and respected him. Samson's pride is the result of the respectable life he once used to live and the miserable and pitiful life he is now exposed too. Samson says,
If in my flower of youth and strength, when all men
Loved, honoured, feared me, thou alone could hate me (John Milton, Samson
Agonistes, Part II).
When Harapha comes to take Samson to the feast both men end up in an argument and Samson is again caught in boasting about this bravery and his might. He tells Harapha that his lords were nothing compared to him, as they could not defeat him with all their powers put together. The only way they conquered his strength was with the help of a weak woman by bribing her with riches and gold. Samson says,
Such usage as your honourable Lords
Afford me, assassinated and betrayed;
Who durst not with their whole united powers
In fight withstand me single and unarmed,
Nor in the house with chamber - ambushes
Close - banded durst attack me, no, not sleeping,
Till they had hired a woman with their gold,
Breaking her marriage - faith, to circumvent me (John Milton, Samson
Agonistes, Part III).
Adam pride in Milton's Paradise Lost is similar to Samson's as far as admiration for his own self is concerned. He too is God's favorite and most beloved creature created as a symbol of good or virtue. The difference between them is that unlike and Adam is that Adam constantly sings glories for God and praises him. Both Adam and Eve take immense pride in their existence. Their life is presents to them constant and luxuriant joy. Adam says,
Warring in Heav'n against Heav'ns matchless King:
Ah wherefore! he deservd no such return
From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.
What could be less then to afford him praise,
The easiest recompence, and pay him thanks,
How due! yet all his good prov'd ill in me,
And wrought but malice; lifted up so high sdeind subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burthensome, still paying, still to ow; (John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book IV, Line
Adam and Eve take a lot of prides in the beautiful kingdom they are provided home in by God. They say,
In narrow room Natures whole wealth, yea more,
Heaven on Earth, for blissful Paradise
Of God the Garden was, by him in the East
Of Eden planted; Eden stretchd her Line
From Auran Eastward to the Royal Towrs
Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian Kings,
Or where the Sons of Eden long before
Dwelt in Telassar: in this pleasant soile
His farr more pleasant Garden God ordaind;
Out of the fertil ground he caus'd to grow
All Trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;
And all amid them stood the Tree of Life,
High eminent, blooming Ambrosial Fruit
Of vegetable Gold; and next to Life (John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book IV, Line 196).
Adam takes pride to be a creature who has been endowed with so much blessings of God. Hence, both Samson…
Studying the characters of Adam and Samson reveals that they have many things in common but it seems totally out of place to compare them with Jesus. Adam and Samson typify men who are on a godward journey while Jesus is the way and also the end of the road.
John Milton the poetic legend of the seventeenth century is well-known for his deep belief in providence and divine judgement.