Samson Agonistes deals with the spiritual education of a Christian “hero” and his development from a self-motivated agent operating on what he presumes to be the will of God to a humbled instrument of that divine will. The real meaning of Samson's regeneration is seen in his resolution of the tension between prophecy (he is God's chosen champion) and fact (he is a blind Philistian bondslave). As the poem opens, Samson is guilty of three sins—pride, presumption, doubt—which obscure his divinely ordained vocation. In the course of the poem, Samson learns that humility, patience, and faith are necessary to his divine mission. These three virtues are the spiritual antidotes to the three sins of which he has been guilty, and enable Samson to be readmitted to the active service of his God. “True experience” and an understanding of God's ways to men are achieved by Samson in the first four movements of the poem (lines 1–1440); the fifth and final movement (lines 1441–1758) educates Manoa, the Chorus, and the reader in these same virtues.

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