Theme Of Eternal Providence And Free Will In Paradise Lost

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Eternal Providence and Free Will: Part and Parcel in Paradise Lost In the opening lines of Paradise Lost, Milton wastes no time conveying to his readers what his purpose in writing the epic is. He writes in the beginning that he intends to “assert Eternal Providence, / and justifie the wayes of God to men” (I. 25-26). What exactly does this mean though? In order to be able to clearly judge and evaluate what these lines imply, it is important that one understands what exactly Milton’s thoughts we regarding “Eternal Providence” and the “wayes of God”. Stemming from this idea, it is important to also realize how the idea of free will intertwines with the omniscience of God. For Milton, God’s omniscient did not constrain the free will of Adam and Eve. However, this idea presents the reader with a paradoxical situation that Milton as an author was fully aware of. Paradise Lost presents the reader with eternal providence and free will as being part and parcel of each other, neither constrains the other, and it is these two aspects, along with that of knowledge that lay the groundwork in understanding Paradise Lost. Although the epic poem centers around the story of the fall of man, it is interesting that Milton intertwines in this story the fall of Satan from heaven and the consequences it has not only for Satan himself, but for Adam, Eve, and the world as a whole. Milton allows the reader to see the fall from the point of view of Satan, God, as well as Adam and Eve. Because Milton gives insight into these characters feelings regarding the fall, it is no surprise that he uses “eternal providence” in conjunction with the stories of Satan, Adam, and Eve. The providence being described here is the knowledge of good and evil. However, ev... ... middle of paper ... ...nces for straying from God and it is because of this that his mind further and further spirals downward. On the other hand, Adam and Eve manage to realize the scope of God’s power and thus rewarded by God’s grace. The theme of free will is highlighted at various points throughout Paradise Lost through different characters. Through each characters actions and the element of choice displayed, Milton conveys his view point that while God is omniscient and there is an eternal providence, free will his not hindered. Milton also conveys through Eve that she choose to disobey God, she does so knowing there will consequences, signifying that she does not have the full capacity to reason clearly. Despite his being aware of the paradox that free will and eternal providence present the reader, Milton did not believe that this constrained one’s understanding of Paradise Lost.

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