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E211 Fall 2010 Students' Blog

Katherine Schulte on Milton's Paradise Lost, Book 3

Published by admin_main on Sat 30 Oct, 2010

17. Examine lines 80-143. Characterize God's "personality," his manner of speaking. Also, describe the theological argument that God makes in this speech. Moreover, what prediction does he make about the future? (Books 2-3)

A: Through lines 80-143, God's "personality" is somewhat elusive. Since God is all knowing, throughout his speech he talks with omniscience. Because God can see how the past and present will affect the future he cannot argue passionately to stop Satan, because that is not what fate has paved for the future. Throughout his dialogue, God's tone could be compared to the character of a grumpy old man who having lived and had experience over many years gains a sense of all knowing and accepting. Like an old man's acceptable of what will be will be, God can only accept that Satan will have influence on human's lives. Since omniscience and omnipotence are part of his personality, God's dialogue and character, could be seen to be used by Milton as narration to include foreshadowing of the future.

God's theological argument beginning on line 93, "For man will hearken to his glozing lies, And easily transgress the sole command, Sole pledge of his obedience: so will fall He and his faithless progeny: whose fault? Whose but his own?" God argues that men on Earth will fall and sin due to Satan because he has created all man with free will and men will choose Satan's "glozing lies" over God and the heavens, although he knew Satan and the rebel angels would disobey and that Adam and Eve would begin a history of man as sinners, it did not happen because Got compelled them to do so, but because he created them with free will and had God intervened to prevent wrong from happening the idea of free will would then be compromised. God argues that it is not his fault that man will chose to sin on Earth on line 98, "I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall" giving all responsibility of man's actions to the man. God continues that had he not given man free will, there would be no proof that their allegiance to God was sincere. God also says it would be vain of him to have created man and then forced an allegiance to God in their creation.

Beginning at line 129, God's speech ends with a prediction about the future, "The first sort by their own suggestion fell, Self-tempted, self-depraved: man falls deceived by the other first: man therefore shall find grace, The other none: in mercy and justice both, Through Heav'n and earth, so shall my glory excel, but mercy first and last shall brightest shine." God predicts that man will eventually feel mislead and betrayed by Satan and then will seek God's mercy and grace. He foretells that by Satan's deceit toward man, God's power will excel on Earth. We see here that God's character will also be forgiving toward man, offering them grace after being misled by Satan. On lines 129, "The first sort by their own suggestion fell," and line 132, "The other none: in mercy and in justice both," God makes a distinction between man and Satan and his rebel angels saying that Satan has already fallen far from grace and will not receive forgiveness from God.

God's omniscience plays a role in his indefinable personality and the concept of granting humans free will. God's speech stresses Milton's idea that God gave man free will and therefore does not compel them to act in a certain way, it was man's choice to trust, and therefore me mislead and deceived by Satan. Milton also stresses the idea that when man will repent from Satan, they will find grace in God.

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