Hope and Despair in Milton's Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regained
Hope and Despair in Milton’s Samson
Agonistes and Paradise Regained
This thesis aims to explore the notions of hope and despair in Milton’s companion poems, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. In the first chapter, I will define and establish the notions of hope and despair in the Christian context by examining the configurations of these two ideas in the Bible, fathers of the church, and representative reformation theologians. A broader contextual study will include renaissance poets and prose writers and one emblem author. The second chapter presents an outline and discussion of the critical history of these two poems, and I will focus upon critics’ reading of hope and despair in these two poems. The third and fourth chapters are devoted to Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regained respectively. Samson and Christ exemplify true hope. A false hope is then embraced by Samson’s visitors, the Chorus, Manoa, Dalila, and Harapha, and the Philistines, and Jesus’ tempter, Satan. In these two chapters, a revelation of the causal relationship between other virtues, faith, patience, and confidence, and hope will enhance our understanding of Christian hope. Milton’s treatments of hope as an act and a tangible being can be evidenced in the protagonists of his two major poems. Samson conquers his near-despair, withstands temptations of false hope and despair, and eventually regains hope as God’s chosen. Jesus passes the trials of faith and patience, maturing in self-knowledge, defeating the despairing Devil, and proving himself as Hope of mankind. The epilogue of the thesis is intended to compare Milton’s representations of hope in Samson and Christ.
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