Between Two Pillars: The Hero's Plight in Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regained
Between Two Pillars breaks free of the regenerist-revisionist controversy over Samson Agonistes by discerning a dialectical opposition between Samson's irrevocable election by God and his subjection-instanced by his slavery-to a fallen, un-Godly order. Complementing God's act of election is Samson's genius for inventing exploits that prove him God's mighty minister. In every episode, it is evident that his heroic drive and inventive powers persist, even though his helplessness absolutely forecloses a career of heroic action.The contradiction of his situation is both epitomized and transcended by his destruction of the temple. Performed in an act of servile idolatry, and horribly violent, it confirms his subjection to sin; yet, by destroying the theater of his servility, it asserts his identity of God champion. This reading is introduced by chapters on Samson's magnanimous pride, his violence, and the characteristic style of his exploits. It is then elaborated by close readings of each episode. A chapter on three late sonnets confirms the dialectical cast of Milton's imagination. Author Joseph Mayer provides a concluding section on Paradise Regained, which corroborates his reading of Samson Agonistes by showing parallels between the two works.
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Three Late Sonnets
Movement in the Drama
The Dialectical Problem
The Temptation of Bread
The Temptation of Banquet
The Temptation of Wealth
The Temptation of Glory
The Temptation of Davids Throne
The Temptation of Kingdoms
action activity already angels appears argued argument arms assert becomes begin better blind brings called champion chapter chorus claim comes command course criticism Dalila death deeds despair dialectical divine doubleness earlier effect enemy energy episode experience exploits expression fall feats final follows force give glory God's hand Harapha helplessness hero heroic human imagines indignation Jesus Judges kingdom later lines living look lords magnanimity Manoa marriage means Milton mind moral nature Notes offered once oracles Paradise Regained perform Philistines physical play poem possible present Press question reader reading reality reason reference refusal rejection reply Samson Agonistes Satan says seems sense serve situation Sonnet speaks speech spirit stand strength Studies talk temple temptation thee things thir thou thought tion truth turn understanding University victory violence virtue weakness