In Paradise Lost, Michael shows Adam future history in a series of dramatic scenes, recalling Milton's view of Revelation as a tragic drama. Adam, the audience, undergoes a catharsis which turns his “terrour” and “compassion” to joy and wonder as the sin deriving from Adam himself yields to the redemption effected by Christ. In Samson this redemptive catharsis centers on the hero. Epigraph and epistle include both possible meanings of catharsis: purgation and lustratio (sacrifice and ablution). Both Donne and Bunyan make purgation the symbol of repentance. So Milton describes Samson's sin and punishment in dietary and medical terms. His cure uses like against like, passion to purge passion. Samson's grief, pity, and fear are raised only to be tempered and reduced in the three central acts by Manoa (grief), Dalila (pity), Harapha and the Officer (fear). But the efficacy of this purgation depends on a lustratio, the sacrifice of Christ, of which Samson's death is a dramatic and ritual mimesis. Samson's fall thus conforms him to the image of the first Adam; his sacrificial self-offering renews him in the image of the second, completing the pattern of human history and of Milton's three great poems.

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