On this episode of The Custom House we’ll investigate the claims of Milton’s Samson as he argues his holy dispensation as a divine right to be violent and deceitful in marriage as in war.
In this episode of The Custom House we turn to 17th century English poet John Milton for an assessment of love and marriage, or perhaps of lust and betrayal as presented in his play Samson Agonistes published in 1671. On hand to assist us in this is Penelope Anderson an assistant professor in the English Department here at Indiana University whose research aims to show the longstanding historical intersections between the legal and conceptual frameworks of political prisoner, slave, and subjected woman, in order to reveal a new genealogy of human rights articulated in their suspension.
This extended cut includes two more readings of the text. One is a back-and-forth between Samson and Dalila, lines 732-996; the other comprises lines 1629-1659 where a messenger describes Samson pulling down the pillars supporting the “theatre” (in Milton’s word; the biblical word is “house”).