Samson Agonistes Questions and Answers
by John Milton

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How does Samson resist Dalila & why?

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During the action of this play (or poem) Samson is in prison.  While he is there, he is visited by many people.  One of these is Dalila, his wife.  The purpose of Dalila's visit is to apologize to Samson and to try to get him to forgive her.

Samson resists Dalila by refusing to believe that she is sincere.  He does not believe that she truly has changed her ways.  He tells her so in no uncertain terms, calling her a hyena, among other things.

Samson resists Dalila because he has grown (spiritually and emotionally) in the days since he fell for Dalila.  Now he knows what is really important and this time he will not allow her to distract him from what he knows is right.

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shinjini | Student

The resistance put up by Samson is two-pronged as one reads how Dalia is perceived by him and the role he conceives of her playing in his life. As the beloved wife who betrayed him, he is resisting her pleas for understanding and acceptance. He remains ‘unmoved’ by her idealized beauty and refuses to believe her counterarguments. His resistance is borne out of the belief that she bears him hatred and not the love she professes.

However, as the conversation unfolds, Samson perceives Dalia and her appeals as a spiritual test. He resists her in order to prove his faith in God, who must have sent Dalia as a temptation to concede and return to an illegitimate conjugal bliss with a Phillistinian woman.

These two narratives of resistance, one of Samson’s will against his love, and the other of his spiritual steadfastness form two varied narratives. He resists both with steadfast refusal, but the intention and vehemence vary. Samson is continually through the text at odds with the former narrative of heroism and this latter narrative of spiritual reconstruction. His inability to accept either of those fates wholeheartedly and to act in accordance to the role of the fallen hero or of a faithful servant of God constitutes his complex Miltonic character.