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Levy_shortbzed - Title Milton's Dalila as depicted in...

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Title? Milton’s Dalila, as depicted in Samson Agonistes , is hardly a simple equivalent to the biblical Delilah, as depicted in Judges 16. By emphasizing Delilah’s womanhood, giving her an explicit Philistine nationality, and creating a marriage between Samson and Delilah, John Milton uses one of the Bible’s most infamous heightens femmes fatales to heighten the appearance of Samson’s mental weakness. Milton stresses Delilah’s womanhood, and de-emphasizes her personhood, by having Samson use the noun “woman” instead of “Delilah” “Dalila” while speaking of her. Samson refers to her as Delilah by name only twice throughout the piece. his poem [cite specific refs.] . The remaining references are “a woman” or some variation thereof. [how many more times is this used versus “Dalila”?] Samson first mentions Delilah when he is bemoaning his submission to Delilah’s pleadings to reveal his secret. He says, “Under the seal of silence could not keep,/But weakly to a woman must reveal it” (Milton 49-50 [supply full bibliographical reference to edition 49-50). employed] ). Later, Samson exclaims, “Fool! to have divulged the secret of God/To a deceitful woman?” (Milton 201-202). Further on, Samson says again that he “gave up [his] fort of silence to a woman” (Milton 236). The effect of these references creates the impression that it could have been any woman and not just Delilah who deceived Samson. [well, maybe not just any woman; but more that it is the “womanliness” of Delilah that seduced Samson 1
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—her sexual power, which any “woman” may possess.] Milton’s pronoun choice of “a” woman instead of “the” woman or “that” woman enhances the perceived anonymity of Delilah. perception of Delilah as a representation of woman personified. Delilah’s deception, then, gets attributed to all women instead of just Delilah. Any women, or “a woman,” could be partially responsible for Samson’s blindness and defeat. Delilah even admits that the her deceptiveness can be attributed to her sex, “It was a weakness/In me, but incident to all our sex,/ Curiosity, inquisitive, importune/Of secrets, then with like infirmity/To publish them” (Milton 773-777) Milton is implying that women in general are deceptive, not just Delilah. implies that the very essence of a woman is to be deceptive, and there is nothing particularly unique about Delilah in this respect.. Establishing women as By first establishing that women are a dishonest, deceptive sex, Milton thus makes Samson seem all the more foolhardy for his capitulation to Delilah. Of course, in this respect, Milton simply reflects a common attitude of his time (or perhaps any time!). Milton’s seventeenth century audience would have begun reading
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