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John Milton's Paradise Lost is an Epic biblical poem with 12 sections, the first of which treats man's disobedience. What is obedience but blind faith?

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Introduction

Julia Ostopkevich, #3717577 English 272/1 - Professor James Wilson John Milton's Paradise Lost is an Epic biblical poem with 12 sections, the first of which treats man's disobedience. What is obedience but blind faith? Freedom (free will) is the absence of imposed behavior. Individual freedom is obviously attractive, but when there is real freedom of choice, the wrong choice is the one that is made - such as the choice made by Satan who although he can be admired for his having dared to rebel against the norm, is not heroic for having chosen to plot against God. Free will was given to man in order to be able to choose the faith since in the absence of free will, there is no way to test faith. The more tested we are, the closer we are to God although whether we truly exercise free will is questionable since perhaps it is simply enforced via the threat of punishment upon transgression. In any event, despite the sanctions, man continues to disobey. Paradise Lost begins in medias res, i.e. in the middle of the action and from line 1, the association is made to the consequences of sinning (disobedience). Such is the responsibility of free will. The motivation to sin is the associated pleasure of fulfilling individual desires. Disobedience leads directly to punishment. It is important to note however that there is no fulfilment with transgression since the feelings associated with this fulfilment disappear before they can even be apprehended while the punishment lasts. ...read more.

Middle

The purpose of the poem is to justify the ways of God to man. It exposes man's relationship with God. Although this poem is highly political, it is not overtly so. It treats isues of individual liberty which is of national concern and discusses both religious and moral issues. In Heaven, there is no democracy nor are there elections. There was no need since there was but one force (quite like a monarchy) and but one intelligence so there was no questioning of this one law. Any figure which dared to question God, religion's monarch, was evil therefore Satan, in doing so, rightfully deserved his trap door to Hell. Authority is not to be questioned! It should be noted that Milton was a firm believer in civil rights and abhored the monarchy yet, to some degree, he was also enamored or admiring of his arch-rival. Milton draws clear parallels between Satan and Cromwell as well as between God and Heaven to Charles II and the monarchy. Satan does not reveal the whole truth and is deceitful in this way. For example he chooses to refer to God in monarchic terms can be construed as being deceitful since God is not Charles II and is thereby not " upheld by old repute, consent or custom " : he is none of these things and in withholding the true reason he is demonstrating to us the fact that he is not trustworthy. ...read more.

Conclusion

In one of the descriptive sections of Paradise Lost, Galileo is mentioned. Not unlike Galileo, Satan stood up for his principles in the face of tyranny and in comparing Satan to Galileo, in a way, it can be said that Milton is defending him. As a true believer of freedom of speech, he clearly presents what Satan stands for and in no way represses or censors him. Even though Milton had issues with Satan, he allowed clear speech and these speeches provide us with the freedom to choose to believe or not. Milton is of the opinion that it is impossible to accept or to reject without having full knowledge and although it seems throughout Paradise Lost that this simple equation might work : since God is good and Charles II can be compared to God then logically it can be deducted that he is also good. Conversely, in the poem, we arrive at the conclusion that Satan is bad and this time, since milton compares cromwell to Satan then it would seem logical to deduce that cromwell is also bad. However, this equation does not hold up to close inspection and in this way, it is evident that in fact, this is a test since we should properly analyse the facts and not simply accept things at face value because they seem right. He encourages us to make our own investiations and make informed, knowledgable decisions. Consequently, it cannot be simply stated that all monarchs are good since such sweeping statements are false and it is primordial to properly examine each separate individual. ...read more.

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