Paradise Lost By John Milton

Paradise Lost is a monumental epic poem in twelve books of blank verse. Paradise

Lost is based on the Bible and other writings available in the Renaissance Era.

The Epic begins with Milton's Intentions for "Paradise Lost." As
stated in the beginning of the first book of Paradise Lost, Milton's intentions
for writing his religious epic are to "assert Eternal Providence / And
justify the ways of God to men" (Book I, ll. 25-26). Milton's audience, of
course, is a fallen audience, like the narrator of the epic. Therefore, because
the audience is essentially flawed there is a danger that we may not read the
text as it was supposed to be read. Some may think Satan is the hero of the
epic. Others may tend to blame God for allowing the falls to occur. However,
both of these readings are thoughtless and are not what Milton has explicitly
intended. Therefore, to prevent these prodigious readings, Milton has cleverly
interwoven a theme of personal responsibility for one's actions throughout the
epic. In this manner, Milton neutralizes God from any unfair blame, exposes

Satan for the ill-Deceiver he is, and justifies the falls of both Angel and Man.

A careful reading by the post-lapsarian audience reveals the author's
intentions. First and foremost, Milton clears God's supreme being from any
suspicion of blame by post-lapsarian readers for "letting" the Angels
rebel or Man eat of the forbidden fruit. Milton skillfully defends God's
knowledge in Book III, when God says to His Son, . . . they [rebel angels]
themselves decreed Thir own revolt, not I: if I foreknew, Foreknowledge had no
influence on their fault, Which had no less prov'd certain unforeknow. [my bold]

Book III, ll. 116-119 The concept of free-will is of utmost importance to God,
and it is the key to justifying the falls and properly placing blame.

Free-willing behavior is the wellspring of joy from which God drinks, but it is
also the justification for His punishment against those who disobey His order.

As Milton continually notes, God takes His greatest pleasure in honoring and
loving His faithful creations. Nowhere in the epic does Milton have God saying

He thoroughly enjoys punishing the disobedient. Love, honor, and integrity are
the main reasons that angels and men are manifested with the ability to freely
choose their actions in the first place. As God rhetorically speaks of all of

His creations in Book III, I made him [Man] just and right, Sufficient to have
stood, though free to fall. Such I created all th' Ethereal Powers And Spirits,
both them who stood and them who fail'd; Freely they stood who stood, and fell
who fell. Not free, what proof could they have giv'n sincere Of true allegiance,
constant Faith or Love, Where only what they needs must do, appear'd, Not what
they would do? what praise could they receive? What pleasure I from such
obedience paid, When Will and Reason (Reason also is choice) Useless and vain,
of freedom both despoil'd, Made passive both, had serv'd necessity, Not mee. [my
bold] Book III, ll. 98-111 God does not desire empty servitude. Forced praise,
faithfulness, or adoration are empty and bordering with forced predestination:
it obliterates free-will and any pleasure derived from it. Rather, God enjoys
genuine love and honest faithfulness from His creations. The most obvious and
deceitful sinner of God's will is Satan. Milton portrays Satan as a seemingly
powerful and noble character who claims to have been wrongfully mistreated by
the Almighty. His speech is loaded with appearance to reason and his arguments
appear to be sound to the unobservant reader. One of many examples of his
twisted speech occurs in the first book, in which Satan says, "Nor. . .do I
repent or change, Though chang'd in outward luster; that fixt mind And high
disdain, from sense of injur'd merit, That with the mightiest rais'd me to
contend, And to the fierce contention brought along Innumerable force of Spirits
arm'd That durst dislike his reign, and mee preferring, His utmost power with
adverse power oppos'd In the dubious Battle on the Plains of Heav'n, And shook
his throne. [my bold] Book I, ll. 95-105 Contrary to his speech, Satan's was not
mistreated by God, nor was his force numerous, nor was the outcome of the battle
perplexed, and neither did they shake God's mighty throne. Perhaps Milton
purposely creates the persona of Satan as an attractive smooth conversationalist
in order to show how easily one may be duped by seeming reason. However, an
attentive and moral post-lapsarian reader, one of Milton's "fit audience..
.,