The Uncertain World of Samson Agonistes

The Uncertain World of Samson Agonistes

John T. Shawcross





Ambiguity, present in all aspects of the poem, is seen as central to Milton's authorial intentions.
Shawcross proposes that the many ambiguities surrounding Milton's dramatic poem Samson Agonistes are intentional: the actual words, the dates of composition, the genre, and the characters - particularly Samson and Dalila but including Manoa, Harapha, and the Chorus. Ambiguity also lies in Milton's presentation of political issues both philosophical and practical, his treatment of gender concepts, the constant questioning of the reader, and the poem's effect. Discussing all these elements, Shawcross follows with a detailed reading of the text which argues that it remains purposefully ambiguous, reflecting Milton's own recognition of the uncertainty of the content, and suggesting that Milton himself would question some of the nice 'solutions' that modern scholarship has offered in the last two decades.

JOHN SHAWCROSS is Professor of English, Emeritus, University of Kentucky.


February 2001
168 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Renaissance Literature
ISBN: 9780859916097
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT004020, LIT004120
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One of the few scholars qualified to write magisterially about any aspect of Milton's life and work succinctly interprets anew his dramatic poem modestly and convincingly. CHOICE

Enormously helpful (in) guiding readers through the complexities of both Milton's text and its accumulated criticism.... A remarkably helpful book, both for its balanced and incisive analysis of Samson itself and for its skilful discussion of important criticism. RELIGION AND LITERATURE

Author Bio

John T Shawcross is Professor of English, Emeritus, University of Kentucky.

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