<i>Samson Agonistes</i> and Milton's Sensible Ethics

Elizabeth D. Harvey

in The Oxford Handbook of Milton

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697885
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Samson Agonistes and Milton's Sensible Ethics

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
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This article examines Samson Agonistes's anatomization of the liminal territory. It is claimed that this interface is manifested in the poem's quite remarkable attention to the array of sensory experience: it describes in vivid perceptual detail Samson's imaging of the dark prison of his blindness, Dalila's seductive fragrance, and the vulnerability and acuity of the acoustic organs, as Samson attempts to ‘fence’ his ears against Dalila's sorceries. Samson Agonistes is a drama that was never meant to be performed. It provides an analogous use of the passions, one that works through the explicit mediation of the senses, a cultivation of their imaginative or aesthetic effects for the purpose of producing ethical behaviour through art.

Keywords: Samson Agonistes; John Milton; anatomization; Dalila; sensible ethics; tragedy

Article.  9363 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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