In Miltons paradise lost, god Essay
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In Milton’s Paradise Lost, God is portrayed as having limited influence and contact with our world. This is perhaps a result of his respect for free will/conscience. This lack of contact is supported by one; God’s passiveness, there are several situations in the book in which God seems like he should be able to influence events but he simply doesn’t act. When he does act, he acts indirectly. God seems to execute his plans through either his angels or his son.
Finally, perhaps the best indication of God’s limited connections is in the cases where God uses complicated, elaborate plans to do things that if he really had 100% power he would perform simply and immaculately. In the book Paradise Lost, God plays a relatively passive role considering that he is by far the most significant character in this book. He seems to sit up on his heavenly throne and observes rather than interact with his creations.
A good case of this is in Book three lines 80-90, when God watches Satan ascending from hell.
It would seem that when he was alerted by Uriel, the archangel would have been a good time to intervene and smite down Satan. It almost seems like Milton’s God wants the events of Paradise Lost to transpire because he yields so many times at so many opportunities to stop Satan. Satan should have been stopped at the very beginning. God must have foreseen this incident (the partaking of the forbidden fruit,) after all, does he not have sight of the future, past and present? (Book Three lines 75-80) Sadly, no-one will ever know what God was planning when he allowed Satan to run rampant in the garden.
Or then again, maybe God wasn’t planning anything at all but rather leaving events to unfold without divine intervention, thus his seeming respect for free will. The only problem with that theory though, is that God punished Adam and Eve for making a decision with the free will that he gave them. Two other instances make cases against God’s absolute power. Why was hell so easily escaped by Satan? One would think that a Purgatory created by God himself would be impenetrable. Even stranger is the case with the Angelic War.
Although for the most part symbolic, God either was not capable or at least unwilling to strike down Satan’s attempted conquest before it began. Instead, God chose once again to remain passive and allow things to go along for awhile. A good question to ask at this point is just what are God’s intentions? If he truly wanted a perfect heaven with conformist angels, what is stopping him from taking their free will? That leads to the point that possibly the reason why God’s influence is limited is his own conscience, based on his respect of free will.
When God does act in the story, it is almost exclusively indirectly through his Son, (as in Book Nine,) or through his Archangels. The most well-known case where God acts through his Son is when God sent him down to be sacrificed upon the cross. Although this specific event does not occur within this story, the reasoning behind it is lengthily discussed especially in Book Three. This however, only supports the thesis if one believes that Jesus is the son of God rather than the Christian view that God IS Jesus.
(John, 8:58) Based on how Milton writes, it shows that he is using the interpretation of the Bible in which Jesus was created by God. Jesus plays a sympathetic role when it comes to mankind and often influences God’s decisions on what to do about Adam and Eve. He persuades God to allow him to go down to heaven to inform Adam about his state of sin. In this case, Jesus actually influences God rather than the usual case with God giving orders and Jesus acting carrying them out. God also acts a lot through his throng of angels. The archangels are his main instruments of manipulation.
Of the seven archangels, Raphael, Michael, and Gabriel are the three most influential. God acts through Raphael most often. Raphael plays a large role in starting in Book Five lines 246-249 “So spake th’Etetnal Father, and fulfill’d All Justice: nor delay’d the winged Saint (Raphael)after his charge receiv’d. ” Raphael then proceeds down to the Garden to warn Adam and Eve of the impending danger posed by Satan. Raphael also spends Book Six and Book Seven informing Adam of the war in heaven and then telling him the nature of his own creation.
Michael and Gabriel have slightly smaller roles than Raphael does; but they do get a chance to enact God’s will when he orders them to lead the faithful Angels in the war against Satan. The final case to prove God’s limited interactions and influence is when God seems to have to work around rules that he must have created himself. A good example of this is when he prepares for the redemption of man. It simply doesn’t make sense that if God desires to redeem his creations that he simply doesn’t grant them redemption from their sins.
Instead he schemes up the elaborate plan to send his son down to receive punishment in place of man. Once again, this could be explained by God having to act within the parameters of what his conscience will allow, (regarding free will). Maybe God has to do these elaborate things so that he can justify to himself the redemption of man. Maybe he thinks that it is only right that somebody receives punishment. Cases similar in nature occur when God didn’t keep Satan from entering the Garden of Eden and when he had to send the great flood.
If not for his respect for free will, God wouldn’t have had to allow mankind to sink so low. In Paradise Lost, Milton presents a God that is strangely limited in his actions and influence with his own creations. Whether through passiveness, indirectness, or a conscious “distancing of himself” God seems to allow many things to happen without direct intervention. However, this is not really a novel concept; people throughout history have questioned the concept of an all-powerful God in a very imperfect world.