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Samson Agonistes essay rough draft

Samson Agonistes essay rough draft - By emphasizing...

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By emphasizing Delilah’s womanhood, giving her a Philistine nationality, and creating a marriage between Samson and Delilah, John Milton heightens 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” while speaking of her. Samson refers to her as Delilah only twice throughout the piece. The remaining references are “a woman” or some variation thereof. 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). Later, Samson exclaims, “Fool! 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. Milton’s pronoun choice of “a” woman instead of “the” woman or “that” woman enhances the perceived anonymity of Delilah. 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 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. Establishing women as a dishonest, deceptive sex makes Samson seem more foolhardy for his capitulation to Delilah. Milton’s seventeenth century audience would
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have begun reading Samson Agonistes with a preconceived notion of women as the weaker sex . Not only did Samson reveal his secret to someone weaker than he, but also to a sex that is inherently deceptive. Milton’s comparison of a woman to a ship takes this
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