Internal Conflicts in Paradise Lost
John Milton sums up the content of the whole poem in the very first thirty-two lines. However, the reader is entrusted to uncertainty when he declares: “That to the height of this great argument/ I might assert Eternal Providence,/ and validate the methods of God to men” (I. 24-26). Milton is uncertain about which ways of God he wishes to validate. The domino effect text structure in lines 1-32 adds to the confusion as Milton opposes himself when he says that he will try to “assert Eternal Providence” and “justify the ways of God to guys.
In Milton’s effort to explain the methods of God to man with “this Everlasting Providence,” he provides an inconsistent tone to the reader as he focuses more on Satan, his evil, and the reasons why he would do something so ignorant. Instead of offering an explanation to guys of the “Eternal Providence,” which is the basic understanding man possesses of the difference of excellent and wicked, he provides absolutely nothing more than a narrative and vast allusions to Genesis.
Milton’s contradiction becomes more apparent towards completion of Book One since there is no resolution or description to man as the poem embodies the “fall” of Adam, Eve, and Satan, not mankind. Milton not just reveals his own internal dispute, but also the internal conflicts of mankind through rhetorical devices, such as a series of concerns that he answers. He asks a rhetorical concern: “And mad’st it pregnant: what in me is dark” (I. 22).
Through this question Milton determines the long-lasting disputes of all of mankind: excellent versus evil and the reason that people do bad things. When Milton states, “I thence/ Invoke thy help to my arrival’rous tune,/ that with no middle flight means to soar,” he applauds and explains God’s function through his adventurous song, yet he already knows the questions that he asks are the same as those asked by all men (I. 12-14). If Adam and Eve had it so terrific, why would they disobey God?
He needs an explanation for himself, but understands that for his work to be great, he must be able to explain the unexplainable. The question of good versus evil has been a conflict man has had since Adam and Eve lived, however it has never really been resolved. The only explanation for the conflict between good and evil is justice; God’s justice. Without a doubt, Milton’s Paradise Lost is an epic poem that addresses the complexity of good versus evil. However, through the use of rhetorical devices, allusion, and many other literary elements, the reader begins to question ot only themselves but the rest of mankind and the good as well as the evil that lies in everyone.
The effects that this poem has are clear. By questioning God, Milton allows us to question others and ourselves. Although an answer from God is not always necessary, the explanation of the “Eternal Providence” and the justice God provides is something man cannot explain. Perhaps that is why God does not answer Milton; he needed to find the answers in himself.
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