Between Two Pillars: The Hero's Plight in Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regained

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University Press of America, 2004 - Literary Criticism - 266 pages
Between Two Pillars breaks free of the regenerist-revisionist controversy over Samson Agonistes by discerning a dialectical opposition between Samson's irrevocable election by God and his subjection-instanced by his slavery-to a fallen, un-Godly order. Complementing God's act of election is Samson's genius for inventing exploits that prove him God's mighty minister. In every episode, it is evident that his heroic drive and inventive powers persist, even though his helplessness absolutely forecloses a career of heroic action.The contradiction of his situation is both epitomized and transcended by his destruction of the temple. Performed in an act of servile idolatry, and horribly violent, it confirms his subjection to sin; yet, by destroying the theater of his servility, it asserts his identity of God champion. This reading is introduced by chapters on Samson's magnanimous pride, his violence, and the characteristic style of his exploits. It is then elaborated by close readings of each episode. A chapter on three late sonnets confirms the dialectical cast of Milton's imagination. Author Joseph Mayer provides a concluding section on Paradise Regained, which corroborates his reading of Samson Agonistes by showing parallels between the two works.

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Contents

Introduction
1
Three Late Sonnets
9
Samson Agonistes
25
Samsons Maneuver
41
Samsons Violence
55
Movement in the Drama
67
Prolog
81
The Chorus
93
Paradise Regained
177
The Dialectical Problem
185
The Temptation of Bread
193
The Temptation of Banquet
201
The Temptation of Wealth
207
The Temptation of Glory
217
The Temptation of Davids Throne
227
The Temptation of Kingdoms
233

Manoa
101
Samsons Despair
113
Dalila
119
Harapha
131
The Officer
145
The Temple
163
The Tower
243
Samsons Marriage Choices
253
Bibliography
259
Index of Authors Cited
265
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Joseph Mayer holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Boston University. His reading outside of Milton studies has centered on theology, particularly the works of Karl Barth. He has taught literature at the high school and college levels.

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