Samson Agonistes can be seen as expressing John Milton’s belief that corporeal suffering may have a divine purpose, and that the suffering self may be the site of a possible “resurrection.” Milton, like the Greek tragedians, shows us a basic fact of human existence: physical pain is more than pain; it paradoxically leads to self-regeneration. Both Samson’s corporeal disfigurement and bodily confinement account for his extreme interiority and immobility, characterized as “Prison within Prison.” In a sense the prison’s own dimensions become that of his self; he becomes the prison. It is only when he enters the open public space in the final temple scene, where he takes advantage of its spaciousness to stage his planned catastrophe, that he at last feels inwardly free and open. His body is transformed from a private to a public one, a body belonging to his people and his history and thus directly facing his and their enemy. In his physical act of pushing against the mighty pillars he seems to be moving outward, moving “outside himself” into a state of total exteriority which yet will be internalized, drawn inward, just as the phoenix’s flight out of the fire has a sense of both inward and outward transcendence. Although one could say that in the final offstage scene Samson uses his body like a page of Scripture, metaphorically rewriting his sacred script, his “letter” to the profane Philistines in his own blood, the value of his mutilated body is more dependent on, or defined by, suffering than by the ending ultimate violence.
KEY WORDS: Samson Agonistes, John Milton, corporeal suffering, space, self-integration
密爾頓的作品《大力士參孫》透露了作者的信念,乃 是受難的身體具有一神聖目的,而受難之個體可為復活重 生的場所。密爾頓在受難的議題上的看法與希臘悲劇家的 觀點相近,乃是:肉體之痛苦意義超越其本身之實質痛 苦,它弔詭地通往重生。主角參孫所承受的身體痛苦可謂 「雙重禁錮」,包括他殘缺的身體(眼盲與神力喪失)以及 他階下囚的處境。二者說明他的極致內限與死寂。置身囹 圄中,囚禁他的軀體的監牢這一特殊空間,定義了他的身 份。直到劇末處,當參孫步出囚房進入敵人神殿的公眾空 間,他得以藉著空間的釋放而完成一場出自他自由意志的 毀滅劇。參孫的身體,由一個屬於個人的提昇為屬於公眾 的層次。此刻,他的身體屬於他的子民與他的歷史。在他 摧毀神殿巨柱時,似乎他得以真正跨越出自身到外界,這 同時他亦內化這種向外延展的空間感,如同火鳳凰在毀滅 性的火中燃燒般,具有內在與外在雙重的超昇意義。或許 參孫之身軀如同聖經頁紙,以血為墨來書寫著神聖文本予 以褻瀆的敵方,但他殘缺的身軀之價值仍然在於其受難經 歷,而絕非是終場的暴力使用。