Through Paradise Lost, Milton “justifies the ways of God to men”, he explains why man fell and how he is affected by the fall. He shows that although man had a fall it was a fortunate fall, “felix culpa”. As a result of the fall there are bad outcomes that man and women will endure but it was a fulfillment of God’s purpose. In creating man, God gave him free will; he created him a perfect being but “free to fall”. In God’s plan man will fall by his own fault. This allows God to show mercy on man and allow man to chose to be obedient and to love God by his own choice and to eventually end up in a better place. If man had not fallen then there would be no coming of Christ the savior, and no redemption, which are apart of God’s plan.When Christ dies for man, he begins the process of redemption leading to the Last Judgement Day and to a new earth and heaven. Although mankind will suffer consequences, they will find grace and mercy through God’s glory and through experience and knowledge they will be able to express sincere love and know true happiness.
Milton begins this epic poem by telling men what is going to happen to man through God’s prophecy. God speaks of the fall and the ultimate outcome.When God created mankind he gave them free will, this free will is what allowed them to fall. God gave them free will because without freedom there would be no evidence that man’s love is genuine: “ Not free, what proof could they have giv’n sincere” (III, 103). God allows Satan to rally his troops and continue on his battle against heaven: “And high permission of all-ruling-Heaven/ Left him at large to his own dark designs” (I, 212-13). God does this because Satan will deceive Eve who will listen to him and disobey God: “by some false guile pervert; and shall pervert;” (III, 92).God uses the fall of man to better show hie greatness: “how all his malice served but to bring forth/ Infinite goodness, grace and mercy shown/ On man” (I, 217-19). Although God says that man is responsible for his own fall, he is not as responsible as Satan is for his fall, therefore man will receive redemption and Satan will not: “The first sort, by their own suggestion fell,/ Self-tempted, self-depraved: man falls deceived/ By the other first: man therefore shall find grace” (III, 129-131).In his eternal purpose God does not allow Satan to completely abolish mankind: “Man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will/ Yet not of will in him, but grace in me” (III, 173-74). Again, using the fall of man to show his glory and mercy. It is God’s foretelling that man will not be destroyed but will find grace in the form of prayer; through praising God and through Christ man will be redeemed.
Although God’s intentions are for man to fall and be redeemed, there are many years in which man will suffer.After the both fell they began to see and feel things in themselves that weren’t there before: “high passions, anger, hate,/ Mistrust, suspicion, discord” (IX, 1123-1124). They had emotions and feeling that were completely foreign to them. They saw evil for the first time, and they saw it in each other: “And full peace, now tossed and turbulent” (IX, 1126).At this point, Milton compares Adam and Eve to barbarians instead of the Greek gods as he had before. He uses this to show how drastic their fall was: “they gathered, broad as Amazonian targe” (IX, 1111).They were perfect and now they know evil and death and are no longer blissfully happy: “remained still happy, not as now, despoiled” (IX. 1137).The world will treat people unfairly as a result of this fall it will treat good men badly and will be harmless to bad men.: “To good malignant, to bad benign” (XII, 538). Until the Last Judgement day, man will continue to suffer; “In glory of the Father, to dissolve/ Satan with hie perverted world, then raise/ From the conflagrant mass” (IX 546-548).However, in God’s master plan, man will come out better in the end and these punishments will only make him stronger.
When in paradise, Adam and Eve are given knowledge by God. He gives them freedom, happiness, and one rule; not to eat from the tree of knowledge. In a one of Satan’s speeches he makes the point that God is forbidding them knowledge to keep them below him: “To keep them low whom knowledge might exalt/ Equal with Gods” (IV, 525- 26). Adam and Eve are only happy because of their ignorance which is the root of their happiness: “By ignorance, is that their happy state” (IV, 519). God hasn’t allowed them to be truly happy because he has forbid them the knowledge of evil to compare to good. Satan uses this plea with Eve to seduce her and get her to eat the apple, disobeying God. Eve doesn’t understand why God would forbid her knowledge and the genuineness of goodness: “In plain then, what forbids he but to know, / Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise” (IX, 758-59). After she eats the apple she thanks experience for leading her to this great wisdom. It is this desire for knowledge through experience instead to just except what she is told that lead to the fall of man. Although this knowledge through experience results in sin, mankind can now express love and goodness with complete sincerity. They no longer live in the world of “ignorance is bliss” and can more freely make their own decisions because they know both good and evil.
After Michael gives Adam all the prophecies of what is to come, both good and
bad, as a result of his fall, Adam sums up the spirit of ‘the fortunate fall’ pretty well in his
“O goodness infinite, goodness immense!
That all this good of evil shall produce,
And evil turn to good; more wonderful
Than which by creation first brought forth
Light out of darkness! Full of doubt I stand,
Whether I should repent me now of sin
By me done and occasioned, or rejoice
Much more, that much more good thereof shall spring
To God more glory, more good will to men
From God, and over wrath grace shall abound. “
Adam says that mankind will rise again and be stronger because of it, and that God’s
greater glory will be shown through this work. Adam had to learn the hard way that to obey God is best: “Henceforth I learn, that to obey is best”(XIII, 561). Now Adam’s dependence on God’s truth will bring him mercy and strength. He no longer has a direct relationship but his faith is what will serve him: “suffering for truth’s sake/ is fortitude to highest victory” (XII, 568-69). Finally Adam expresses that he will never leave Paradise because he will always have it within him: “but shalt possess/ A paradise within thee, happier far” (XII, 586-87). Adam takes what he can from the fall and makes it to his best ability, a fortunate one. Eve has had the pain of child birthing put on her as a punishment. She takes this a makes it a good thing: “I carry hence; though all by me is lost,/Such favor I unworthy vouchsafed,/ By me the Promised Seed shall all restore” (XII 621-23).Eve is saying that isn’t even worthy of this gift, “favor”, creating her own felix culpa out of herfall. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and for that there were punishments, however they both turned it around and made it the best as possible.