Act V

The irony heightens as Manoa enters after Samson has left for the temple, happy after successfully negotiating his son's release from the prison. The Chorus and Manoa discuss the attempts to secure Samson's ransom. Intermittently we are given descriptions of noise at the temple, where Samson (the reader as yet untold) is first presented, and later performs his 'great act'. There is presage for the Messenger's description in the responses of the Chorus and Manoa as they hear the effects of Samson collapsing the temple of Dagon from a distance:

'Man. O what noise!
Mercy of Heav'n, what hideous noise was that!
Horribly loud, unlike the former shout.

Chor. Noise you call it, or universal groan,
As if the whole inhabitation perished?
Blood, death, and dreadful deeds are in that noise,
Ruin, destruction at the utmost point.'

The climax of the story is told by the Messenger. Milton uses a conventional classical (particularly Greek) tragic device here. The tension increases as the Messenger creates suspense through Milton's use of language. We are told that Gaza has fallen, but it is another 29 lines before we are told Samson's fate. The Messenger gives a detailed account of how Samson brought down the temple, and that in doing so, though he took his own life, he has provided for the political and spiritual liberation of the Hebrews.

On hearing of Samson's actions, the Chorus remarks, 'O dearly bought revenge, yet glorious!' It is realised that Samson has followed his calling and fulfilled his vocation - 'thou hast fulfilled / The work for which thou wast foretold / To Israel'. The Chorus emphasises the martial aspect of the act at the temple: 'Thee with thy slaughtered foes, in number more / Than all thy life had slain before.' The Semichorus emphasises the idolatry of the Philistines and the iconoclasm of Samson's 'great act'.

Manoa notes 'Samson hath quit himself / Like Samson, and heroicly hath finished / A life heroic, on his enemies / Fully revenged'. He then rouses his brethren to collect Samson's body 'Soaked in his enemies' blood' and plans for a funeral procession 'Home to his father's house' where he vows to build a monument to Samson's endeavour.

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