Good And Evil In John Milton's Paradise Lost

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In Paradise Lost, John Milton constantly fidgets with the notions of good and evil. Because of this perpetual play, Milton establishes good and evil as constantly shifting forces that both God and Satan seem to utilize in opposition to each other. The conflicting discourse between the two forces redefines Heaven’s God as a being capable of evil, and Hell’s Satan as a creature seemingly capable of good. At every moment, good and evil find the occasion to switch heroes, leaving them as forces in a continuously reconceived state. It seems though that good becomes capable of what seems to be evil, more than evil is capable of what seems to be good. More often in the story, God performs actions that place him in a position that makes…show more content…
Regardless, Milton draws condolences from readers when Lucifer, now Satan, is cast out of Heaven with a third of the angels into the abysses of Hell. Satan then has only one option: acceptance. There is no grace left for him, even if he chooses to repent. He even expresses that he knows he would rebel again if given the chance to be back in Heaven, second in line, in a position of subordination. So, Satan chooses to be evil, if God is good—“Evil, be thou my Good!”(Paradise Lost 4: 110). By addressing evil, by even knowing the word “evil”, Satan acknowledges the pre-existent construct that God has utilized against him. By this equation, good and God/evil and Satan, Milton establishes the concepts of good and evil as an impermanent construct that is nothing more than an arbitrary byproduct of events and choices. Even the creation of Lucifer in Book Five is a paradox. God essentially speaks creation into existence, and at the very moment God speaks the Son and happiness into existence, he speaks his new enemy Lucifer into opposition to good:
And by my Self have sworn to him shall bow
All knees in Heav’n, and shall confess him Lord;…
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This paradox flirts with Milton’s language of evil: hate in Heaven; Hell and Heaven; Sin,
Satan, Son, Serpent. By toying with alliteration, Milton’s construct of evil has taken on an entirely new demeanor, something playful and inoffensive, and extremely attractive to
Eve. But hate is not a force that Satan alone subscribes to, for God and the Son are also capable of hate; the Son says to the Father at one point “ Whom thou hat’st, I hate”
(Paradise Lost 6: 734). Adam responds to Raphael’s story like a child would to a fairytale. He is more concerned with how it all began, rather than heeding Raphael’s warning of the same enemy of God that will become a danger to them. Cleverly, at the beginning lines of Book Seven, Milton addresses his audience like Raphael addresses
Adam, trying to warn readers of the dangers of intrusive evil while they are distracted with Satan’s misfortunes. The difference in speech between Satan and Raphael serves as a point of interest for this good/evil debate. Raphael is an angel, who has never experienced evil, lest
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