Essay on John Milton 's Paradise Lost

Essay on John Milton 's Paradise Lost

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In order for John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost to fulfill its promise to “justify the ways of God to man,” Milton must prove that man is responsible for his fall from Eden. Throughout the epic, God argues against his culpability in the fall of humanity and insists that Adam and Eve both possess absolute free will. Essentially, the evidence for this idea that his creations held free will concentrates on a connection between reason and the freedom to make informed, correct decisions. This Arminian notion that Man must be responsible for his decision to either accept or refuse to follow God’s instruction because Adam possesses reason and, by extension from this, free will, fails to recognize other factors at play which detract from his ability to exercise his supposedly free will. As an omnipotent being, God would be fully aware of the limitations, desires, and flaws of humanity. Therefore, God’s structuring his creations with potent failings such as uxoriousness and narcissism hindered this argument that humanity must accept culpability for their actions. Although John Milton’s God in Paradise Lost argues that, as Adam possessed reason, God bears no responsibility for Adam’s failure to remain divinely obedient, factors such as his uxorious nature toward Eve inhibited his agency, resulting in his shift from a theocentric view to an androcentric hierarchy.
Throughout the epic, God’s actions appear to focus on ensuring that his creations cannot hold him responsible for their fall, rather than strengthening them against it as a preventative measure. In Book 3 of the epic, God exclaims that “[Adam] had of Me / All he could have” (2.97-98) and that Adam was “Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall” (3.99). In these lines, God argues ...


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...sion to fail God’s instruction.
During Eve’s attempted temptation of Adam, his absolute reliance on Eve leaves him uxorious and detracts from his agency and loyalty to God. Both before Adam encounters Eve and when he first converses with her by the lake, he reveals his utter dependence on her. When she informs him of her partaking of the forbidden fruit and asks him to fall with her, Adam admits that he “with [Eve] hath ruined, for with [her] / Certain [his] resolution is to die; / How can [he] live without [her]?” (9.906-908). Adam cannot imagine a life without the individual who physically and figuratively remains a vital piece of himself. By his own inability to retain a theocentric hierarchy above his enamorment with Eve, Adam’s uxorious nature dominates his decisions. He so deeply obsesses over Eve that his emotions detract from his loyalty to his faith in God.

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