Free Will In John Milton's Paradise Lost

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To obey or not to obey Living in the 17th century England, a period when new capitalism and imperialism was first introduced, weakening the position of religion, especially that of Christianity, John Milton was concerned about people losing their faith and free will to exercise their religious believes. Free will, according to the dictionary, is the ability to make choices that are not controlled by fate or God. Milton’s epic poems, Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes, argue that God gave human beings free will first because He wants human’s obedience that is formed by nature, not force; second because He wants human beings to actively redeem themselves by exercising free will. Milton starts the poem writing “Of man’s first disobedience”(Paradise …show more content…
In Paradise Lost, having been given free will to correct himself after betrayed God and fought the war, Satan still chooses to “in the serpent, perverted Eve”(Paradise Lost 10.2). Knowing that Satan is not going to redeem himself, God “ruled him, punished in the shape he sinned”(Paradise Lost 10.515). In the contrast, given the free will, Adam and Eve regret what they did and sincerely ask for God’s forgiveness, saying “He will instruct us praying, and of grace beseeching him, so as we need not fear to pass commodiously this life, sustained by him with many comforts, till we end in dust, our final rest and native home”(Paradise Lost 10.1081). Adam and Eve finally redeem themselves with free will given by God and move on to the new life. In Milton’s other epic poem, Samson Agonistes, Samson also redeems himself by exercising the free will given by God. God allows Samson to either stay in the prison or “to show them feats, and play before their god”(Samson Agonistes 1339). Making his own decision, Samson kills the enemies and wins his glory, which is sung by the chorus, “O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious! Living or dying thou hast fulfilled the work for which thou wast foretold to Israel” (Samson Agonistes

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