Samson Agonistes

Comparing Female Figures in Samson Agonistes and The Aeneid

In the political hierarchy depicted by Milton and Virgil, power rightly belongs in the hands of a man, not a woman. During the times when men are the sole leaders of the nation, a woman's possession of power and influence is viewed as unnatural and dangerous to the well-being of a nation. Women, as portrayed in Milton's Samson Agonistes and Virgil's The Aeneid are regarded as temptresses, deceitful creatures cunning in their ways to beguile men. Milton's text quotes, "Therefore God's universal Law / Gave to the man despotic power / Over his female in due awe" (SA 1053-5). By exposing women's vulnerability to their whims and irrational passions, Milton and Virgil represent their female figures as a source of man's destruction and as wicked temptations that man must resist in order to build an uncorrupt and great nation.

Dalila is the epitome of the deceitful woman in Samson Agonistes, as she abets the downfall of the text's hero, her husband Samson. Samson introduces her as

A deceitful Concubine who shore me

Like a tame Wether, all my precious fleece,

Then turn'd me out ridiculous, despoil'd,

Shav'n, and disarm'd among my enemies. (537-40)

In this metaphor, Samson is a helpless...

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