The tragic action of Samson Agonistes develops through a contrast between the language of Samson and that of the Chorus. An essential clue to Milton's art in this drama lies in his effect of deliberately playing down the choruses in the middle, refusing to give the chorus very good lines, except toward the beginning and again toward the end. After each of the central episodes, Milton has given the chorus words that are for the most part dry and commonplace, often surprisingly flat. It would appear that Milton's use of rhyme and partial rhyme in the choruses has frequently the effect of lowering the tone of high seriousness and making impossible any high dignity in the choric speech. The basic effect is to stress, by contrast, the grandeur of Samson, the greatness of his mind and spirit. The weak and ordinary character of Manoa, the complex and enigmatic character of Dalila, and the braggart character of Harapha are all related to this basic contrast between Samson and the chorus.

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