This is echoed later by the Chorus, who tell Samson 'Tax not divine disposal' (l.210), and again 'Just are the ways of God, / And justifiable to men' (ll.293-4). A reader of Paradise Lost will recognise Milton's concern to depict the innermost tribulations that precede spiritual regeneration of the 'godly' - Adam goes through the very same process of catharsis in the poet's epic.
The imagery of Samson blindness and his being deprived of light alludes to his sense of being alienated from God:
'O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
Samson again expresses his doubt or lack of faith in God: 'Light, the prime work of God, is to me extinct,' (l.70) interpreting his blindness as a sign of God's abrogation of Samson's vocation; 'Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree?' (l.85) The Chorus, comprised of 'certain friends and equals', arrives to give 'Counsel or consolation' to Samson. At first they stand back from the blind Samson and observe the pitiful state God's champion has fallen to
'Which shall I first bewail,
The Chorus invokes Samson's past deeds (which Milton takes from the Book of Judges). The Chorus questions divine justice by asking 'By how much from the top of wondrous glory, / Strongest of mortal men, / To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fall'n.' (ll.167-9) The Chorus interprets Samson's condition (blinded, fallen, captive and slave) as 'O mirror of our fickle state...' (l.164). Samson discussed Dalila's betrayal of him. He takes responsibility, asking how he could have been such a 'Fool, have divulged the secret gift of God / To a deceitful woman?' Samson asks if the Hebrew people now mock him. The Chorus consoles him, telling him that 'wisest men / Have erred, and by bad women been deceived; / And shall again, pretend they ne'er so wise.' (ll.210-13)
Samson recounts the history of his wives (from Judges 14 and 16). Though the Woman of Timnath was indeed Samson's wife, Judges does not record Dalila as such. This is Milton's own literary alteration. We learn how Dalila, 'a deceitful woman', 'That specious monster, my accomplished snare', had tricked Samson into revealing the secret of his divinely ordained strength and betrayed him to the Philistines. Samson admits, however, that Dalila 'was not the prime cause' and confesses 'I myself / ... Gave up my fort of silence to a woman.'
The Chorus observes that the Hebrews are in servitude to the Philistines. Samson refuses to take the blame for the Hebrews' enslavement; he states it is the fault of Israel's governors and tribal heads. He recalls his past endeavours (again, taken from the Book of Judges) and asserts they abandoned him - stating if they had followed Samson they would have 'lorded over them whom they now serve'. Samson scorns the Hebrews for renouncing their freedom, that they 'love bondage more than liberty, / Bondage with ease more than strenuous liberty;' - Milton here is making a succinct political allusion to the fate of the Protectorate (cf. The Readie and Easie Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth), comparing Hebrew apathy with that of the English 'people' of his own times.
The Chorus continues to advise Samson, declaring 'Just are the ways of God / And justifiable to men' (ll.193- 94) in answer to the opening of Book I of Paradise Lost. Samson is warned of the danger of doubting divine justice, and the hero is told of inner tribulation there is 'no man therein doctor but himself'. Samson is reminded of his matrimonial error in marrying Dalila - God had willed that he marry the woman of Timnath, so contravening pre-existing tribal and divine law could be justified; with his decision to marry Dalila, though his intentions were good (i.e. to pursue his vocation), he is guilty of presumption.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|