.. used two main characters to display good and virtue to the reader; the first one is God himself. God was the true symbol of all that is good in the world. God was the creator of man and kept this in control with three mighty powers. The first power was omnipotence, which is being all-powerful.
God’s second power was that of omnipresent, which is the ability to be present everywhere at the same time. The third mighty power of God was being omniscient, which is the ability to know all things (John). God himself was surrounded by a holy light that is so utterly powerful that he cannot be approached (Milton 92). God displayed the power of omnipotence in full when he was able to cast Satan’s legion of angels out of Heaven into Hell (35). The angels fled over the edge of Heaven rather than face the wrath of God (170). God was also able to dispel all evil from Adam and Eve’s way in paradise through simple prayer (148).
This mighty power of God showed his true ability as a ruler that fights only for the well being of good and virtue in Heaven and Paradise. God used his omniscient power to play an essential role in the poem, foresee the downfall of man, and give man free will. This free will of man is what gave man freedom from God. God still had control of man, but man was able to do as he chose, whether it was good or sinful (Blessington 43-44). God vows, “I form’d them free, and free they must remain, / Till they enthrall themselves” (qtd.
in Blessington 44). God also used this freedom of choice as a test for man, just like the angels were tested before their downfall to Hell, even though he knew the outcome would be sin (Blessington 45). With these great powers, and God’s holiness, he is the true representation of all that is good. The mighty powers of God laid out the entire outcome of the poem to the reader, showing grace and virtue overcoming all evil. The second key character introduced by Milton is The Son, whose powers and abilities are used to contradict the sin and evil throughout the poem. By his powers, God declared his son to be the king of the angels in Heaven (John).
He was mighty in battle as he led the fight against the legion of Lucifer’s angels in Heaven, pursuing them in his thundering chariot towards the wall of Heaven till they leapt over the edge into Hell (Milton 170). The Son also had the power of free will but only used it as the savior of man and toward the purpose of good. The reader saw the abilities of The Son evoked good and love for man through the poem. In the third book of the poem, God gave his son the power to judge man’s sins (94-95). The Son, showing his true love, charity and grace to God, offered himself as a sacrifice for man’s sins (96-97). Milton believed this was true grace, not deserved by man, but God offered it to man in order to save his existence.
The death and resurrection of The Son will redeem man for his sins. This is also showed the reader divine love to his father and leadership of angels, since he was the only one to offer himself when asked by God who will (92-93). The true love and mercy expressed by The Son throughout the poem brought grace and pity to all created. The Son brought forth his commitment to his Father, judgment of man, to the reader in book ten of the poem. The Son judged Adam and Eve for breaking the commandment of God to not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.
Adam resigned his manhood, and makes Eve a god to him. This act of making someone else a god, instead of the true God, is a major sin in the eyes of God (Milton 272). The first curse The Son handed down upon man was the pain of childbirth. Next, he declared the ground man walks on would grow thorns and thistles. Finally, The Son announced death to man, bringing about feelings of guilt and shame (273-274).
With this announcement, the gates opened to allow the characters Sin and Death into Earth, never to leave, only to prey on man (275-276). The judgement of The Son gave the reader the definition of man today, able to choose sin with a path of redemption by Jesus, or take the easy road to Hell. Throughout John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, the reader was able to see a contrast between what is evil and what is good. Milton first introduced the reader to sin and evil in the lead character Satan. Milton showed the reader Satan’s ways of deceit, jealousy, and destruction through various dreadful acts. With Satan’s incestuous relationship he carried on with his daughter to create the character Death, Milton exposed the reader to the true perversity brought on by sin.
Next, Milton introduced the reader to the fallen angels and their evil ideas during their meeting in the capitol of Hell, Pandemonium. Such characters as Mammon with his materialistic greed, Belial with his false and hollow views, the all aggressive Moloch and his suicidal battle philosophies, and finally Beelzebub passing on the views of Satan. The contrast to these characters came from God and The Son. God, with his powers of creation, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, was able to look over his creations with subtle control and try to guide them toward good decisions. In addition to God, the reader looked upon The Son as a symbol of divine love of God and his creations and his showing of true grace toward man. With the powerful character representation by Milton, the reader is able to see the bad in evil and sin, and the good and justification in the judgements of God and The Son.
Bibliography Blessington, Francis C. Paradise Lost: Ideal and Tragic Epic. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1988. Bush, Douglas, ed. The Portable Milton.
New York: Penguin Books, 1977. “John Milton’s Paradise Lost.” Internet. 7 October 1998. Available http://www.mindspring.com/~verax/milton.htm Milton, John. “Paradise Lost.” Paradise Lost and Other Poems. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1981.