The Concept Of Free Will In Milton's Paradise Lost

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To determine whether or not Satan has free will in “Paradise Lost, first we will broadly define free will to determine a clearer definition of what Milton considers as free will. According to the Oxford Dictionary, free will is “the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion” (Oxford Dictionaries Language Matters). In “Paradise Lost,” because the notion of free will seems to contradict what we consider to be freedom, we will first consider how free will applies to human beings compared to fallen angels. Also, since Satan convinces himself and others through the appearance of free will, we will consider when Satan seems to be in control of himself and others. Finally, we must really …show more content…
In order to gain a better understanding of free will, and if it does exist, we need to determine how free will applies to human beings and not to Satan. Milton writes “authors to themselves in all/ both what they judge and what they choose; for so/ I form 'd them free, and free they must remain” (260:10-12). Since Milton is portraying God 's voice, according to this passage we were created with the intention to prevail over our own lives and decisions. If we have the freedom to choose and always will, then it is reasonable to say that we should be able to make decisions, not without consequences, but without God 's intervention or the influence of his will. Although we assume and appear to be in control of our lives, it is likely that we only have the freedom to make the right choice, God 's choice. In “Paradise Lost” Milton writes “I made him just and right,/ sufficient to have stood, though free to fall” (98-99). By using an omniscient narrator Milton is implying that God may equip us to make the correct decisions, but in our failure to do so we are likely to suffer consequences. Also, if we make choices that are subject to criticism and even punishment then it seems like Satan, human beings only have the illusion of free will. Consequently like Satan, once humans have fallen from God 's grace then it is unlikely they will ever be able to return to it again. In “On Reason, Faith, and Freedom in "Paradise Lost”” William Walker suggests “if, out of this freedom, he does disobey reason and allows it to be governed by appetite, he forfeits the freedom to believe and to act, and he suffers the special punishment God reserves for that forfeit: the loss of civil liberties” (Walker 158). This makes us question if our decisions, according to free, are still under God 's discretion

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