Study Guide

Samson Agonistes

by John Milton

Samson Agonistes Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Samson

Samson, the great Hebrew champion, who has been blinded and imprisoned by the Philistines. When the Chorus first greets him, he is deeply depressed, for he feels that he has betrayed God and himself by his own weakness. His successful resistance of Dalila’s temptations and his defiance of Harapha’s taunts restore his sense that he has a mission to perform. He goes to the Philistines’ feast in honor of their god, Dagon, with strong consciousness that he will find there a task to do in God’s service, and he “quit[s] himself like Samson” by pulling the hall down on the heads of his enemies and himself.

Manoa

Manoa, Samson’s kind old father. He seeks to ransom his son and offers to devote the rest of his life to caring for him. Although he mourns Samson’s death, he rejoices at the grandeur and heroism of his end.

Dalila

Dalila (dah-LI-lah), Samson’s treacherous Philistine wife. She cajoles her husband, avows her repentance, and tries to excuse her betrayal of him by pleading her duty to her country, as a means of winning him back. Realizing that he will not fall prey to her hypocrisy, she departs in anger, consoling herself with the thought that she will be regarded as a heroine by her own countrymen.

Harapha

Harapha, a boastful Philistine warrior. He insults Samson and challenges him to defend his God against Dagon, when he believes his enemy to be weak. He exits quickly when he realizes that Samson has recovered his strength and his willingness to fight.

A Chorus of Hebrew elders

A Chorus of Hebrew elders, a group of old men who sympathize with Samson and comment on the action as it takes place.