Samson Agonistes Background

Samson Agonistes Background

Samson Agosnistes is a closet play published in 1671 by British author John Milton. The play is referred to as being a tragic poem, because on the first page John Milton names it so, letting us know that he did not wanted to see his work on stage, probably because he was a puritan and the puritans were against theaters and every form of art that would trick the senses.

The poem takes place in a prison, where Samson is kept and it focuses on Samson’s feelings and meditations after he was captured by the Philistines, made a slave, have his hair cut off and his eyes taken. The poem follows closely the Biblical story but some minor deviations appear. The poem intends to focus on what happened in the period when Samson was kept as a prisoner and so in a way completes the Biblical story.

Violence, religion, women and blindness are all themes discussed in the play but the predominate theme is blindness. In this sense, we can see a parallel drawn between Samson and Milton: they were both blind, and Milton wrote and published his poem after the loss of his sight and they were both condemned by the society in which they lived.

Even though Milton sympathizes with Samson, the ending remains the same as in the Bible and Milton doesn’t save Samson.

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