Thursday, May 30, 2019
Essay on Freedom and Satan in John MiltonÃ¢â¬â¢s Paradise Lost
plaindom and Satan in paradise Lost Satans primary operational problem in Paradise Lost is his lack of obedience. The fundamental misunderstanding which leads to Satans disobedience is his separation of apologize will from Gods hierarchical power. In the angel Raphaels account, Satan tells his dominions, Orders and Degrees/Jarr non with liberty (5.792-93). Tempting as this differentiation seems, Satan is mistaken. Free will and hierarchical power are not mutually exclusive, as Satan suggests, but overlapping concepts. Even though Satan has been created with sufficient immunity to choose to disobey, he tacitly acknowledges Gods sovereignty when he exploits his choice. Satan is constrained existentially, from the outset, by having a specific choice to make about whether or not to obey God. Satan, just as all angels, demons, and humans, may exercise his freedom as assent or dissent, for God had created him Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall./Such I God created all th ethereal powers/And spirits . . . /Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell (3.99-102 cf. 5.549). If Satan would choose neither to assent nor to dissent, thereby refusing to exercise his free will, he would be discarding his free will. But this is impossible, as the demons determine in counsel in Book II so long as he exists, Satan must make choices with respect to his possible obedience to God. If Satans first mistake was to completely divorce his free will from Gods power in giving him that freedom, his second mistake occurs in his conception of what it means to exercise that freedom. God says that Not free, what proof could they Satan et al. have given sincere/Of true consignment? (3.103-04). But Satan has exactly the... ...lthough one can choose, as Satan does, to dissent and disobey, such purportedly self-creative acts are in fact merely an confession of Gods hierarchical power. When pride and ambition to be like God prevent humans from hearing the umpire Conscience Go d has placed within us (3.195 Satan likewise has been given conscience enough to remember the call to obedience, 4.23), we become like Satan, for the same reasons constrained to listen only to the Satanic character dissenting in our ears. Works Cited Scott Elledge, ed., Paradise Lost, second edn. (NY Norton, 1993). Millicent Bell, The Fallacy of the Fall in Paradise Lost, PMLA 68 (1953), 863-83 here p. 878. Northrop Frye, The Return of Eden (Buffalo Univ. of Toronto, 1965), 39-40, 43 Barbara Lewalski, Paradise Lost and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms (Princeton Princeton U. , 1985), 174.