Good And Evil : Themes Of Paradise Lost Essay

Good And Evil : Themes Of Paradise Lost Essay

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Good and evil are central themes in Paradise Lost. Classic symbols of both extremes are in the book: God and Satan, good and evil personified, respectively. In spite of the seeming dichotomy of either pure evil or total goodness, for much of Paradise Lost the distinction between good and evil is not very clear. The goodness of Man overcome by sin and the fall of God’s holy angels to hell are examples of the overlap of both good and evil within characters. This inherent potential for evil in Adam, Eve and Lucifer ****. Further, the relationship between good and evil and their relative dependence on each other is brought into question by the roles they play in Paradise Lost.
Adam and Eve were made in God’s own image “quote about how perfect they were”. They were created to live “reaping immortal fruits of joy and love, [in] uninterrupted joy, unrivalled love, blissful solitude” in the Garden of Eden (3.67-68). In spite of being allowed to live in paradise, to converse with angels, and be free from any hardships, Adam and Eve turn away from God and disobey his one command: to never eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. They sin, succumbing to the possibility for evil within themselves. As a result, they doom not only themselves but also their future offspring to a life of hardship outside the Paradise.
The fall of Adam and Eve shows that even the most kindly of creatures have the potential for evil. This is further explored by the similar fall of the angels from heaven. Led by Lucifer the “light-bringer”, a third of God’s celestial army rebels against him in an attempt to usurp the throne of heaven. These angels were God’s messengers and were meant to spread his ideology, not revolt against it. Nonetheless, these heavenly beings tu...


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...ood is best explained by considering what constitutes evil.
The free will argument and ignorance of evil argument are separate and distinct, even if they seem to make contradictory points. The existence of free will and allows for both good and bad actions, even if Adam and Eve had no prior exposure to evil within the Garden. If they remained ignorant to evil, they could still commit evil actions as they would be allowed to transgress. However, if they had no free will, their actions would by necessity be in accordance with God, but would be pseudo-good as they had no alternative course of action. Whether or not they were ignorant of evil, it is because Adam and Eve had free will that they could perform both good and bad actions. The distinction between awareness and action is an important one as it explains how evil was bred in the Garden before Satan’s temptation.

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