Samson Agonistes

Blindness in Samson Agonistes

In John Milton’s play Samson Agonistes, eyesight is a recurring motif and blindness used frequently as a metaphor to define the status of a character’s journey. Milton uses the presence or lack of clarity in vision, both physically and spiritually, to indicate characters’ direction. Although several characters experience blindness to differing degrees, Samson epitomizes the dynamic states and stages of blindness. All of these are necessary components of his pilgrimage of personal redemption, where his loss of physical eyesight becomes essential to mitigate the more serious condition of internal, spiritual blindness.

Manoah’s paternal connection to his son hinders his ability to see that the blindness Samson must endure as a result of his failures is actually necessary to restore Samson’s inner eyes. Manoah attempts to convince Samson that his predicament can be reversed and that there is a way out:

“But God who caus’d a fountain at thy prayer

From the dry ground to spring, thy thirst to allay

After the brunt of battel, can as easie

Cause light again within thy eies to spring.” (581-84)

Manoah’s eyes are indeed veiled from reality, for he is unable to analyze the situation apart from his disposition and concepts which persuade him to...

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