Samson Agonistes Themes

Samson Agonistes Themes


As it is a poem based on a Biblical story, it is natural to have religious themes in the book. What one can notice is that there seems to be two opposing ideas in the poem. On one side, we have Samson, who believes that what happened to him is just and that he deserved to be punished by God for his sins and for not keeping his vows. He resents himself, repeating that what happened to him is his own doing. On the other side, we have Samson’s father, who thinks that even though his son sinned against God, the punishment is just too cruel for the deeds his son has done. Samson is mad at himself for losing God’s favor, while his father is mad at God for punishing his son in a cruel way.


Women are not seen in a positive light in the poem, probably because the only woman who appears is Dalila. Milton describes woman as being cunning and harmful when they rise about the status of helpers for their husbands. In this sense, Dalila is a powerful and dangerous character because she was able to emasculate Samson. Through her seduction, she proved herself to be more powerful that Samson and more willing to make sacrifices in order to get what she wants.


Samson is driven by the desire to revenge God and this involves violence. Prior to being captured, Samson was already known for his strength and for his willingness to kill if it was in the name of his God. When Samson is locked and the reason why he fought is being ridiculed, Samson begins to live only to revenge his God. Violence in this play is not condemned like it is in other books, but rather is it justified if it serves a higher purpose.


It is clear that Milton sympathizes with Samson because they are both blind but in the play, blindness is more than just a medical condition. For Samson, the absence of Light is devastating because he takes this as a sign that God has forgotten about him and that he no longer has his support. For Samson, God deprived him of the most basic right, of the first thing created and given to man so they could discover God’s creation. Because now he is not able to see this creation, Samson assumes that God believes that he is not worthy of having this gift because of his sins.

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