Samson Agonistes Characters
by John Milton

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Samson Agonistes Characters

Samson Agonistes is an adaptation of the Samson and Dalila story of the Book of Judges in the Old Testament.

Samson is the central character. Milton begins the story after Samson has been captured and blinded by his mortal enemies, the Philistines. He has come to realize his physical blindness is not as debilitating as his spiritual blindness and he resolves to set things right following his fall from grace. Samson resolves to be worthy of his redemption, and spends the play resisting temptations from Dalila and Manoa.

Dalila is a complicated character. She is a femme fatale type, but she comes to Samson begging his forgiveness, trying to get him to believe that she only deceived him to protect her people and her gods. However, her sincerity is questionable and Samson certainly does not believe her.

Manoa is Samson's father. He is willing to pay for Samson's freedom, so he can come home and be cared for by Manoa. Manoa wants his child back and is content with letting his grown-up son essentially live through a second childhood in being dependent upon him. However, Samson resists this temptation.

Harapha of Gath is a warrior who taunts Samson. He wishes he could have fought Samson when he was able-bodied and in his prime, and claims he would have beaten him easily. Samson, despite his blindness and worn-down body, challenges Harapha to a fight, which Harapha declines, since he feels it wouldn't be fair. Unlike Dalila and Manoa, Harapha does not tempt Samson with a life of comfortable dependence.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


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...

(The entire section is 550 words.)