When John Milton decided to write, he knew from the start he wanted his creation to be that of an epic. Paradise Lost is just that. It is Milton's own take on the biblical story of Satan's fall from grace as well as man's fall. Milton was not only armed with an extensive knowledge on the Bible, but in everything a man of his time could learn. With his wisdom he emersed himself into his work, making Paradise Lost not only a tale of epic perportions, but one that would "Justify the ways of God to Man." (I 26)
Even before reading Paradise Lost, I had always wondered why God allowed evil, and why he allowed death. After a while I had simply accepted that God was God, and what happens, happens. Basically an act of pure faith. Then I read Paradise Lost and as a Christian I do feel that Milton's artistic vision has successfully helped him accomplish what he had set out to do. Staying true to the teachings of Christianity, his perception of man's fall has made sense of why there is evil in the world. Not because of God, but because of the free will God has granted his creations.
Free will is both a blessing and a curse. Through free will God has made us independant in our own decision making. We have the power to choose right from wrong. Free will gives us power, and it is that power that can corrupt. The first character in Paradise Lost we are introduced to is Satan. He is the first being to be corrupted by his obsession with power, which stems from his free will. He chose his path, and that path lead him and those who followed him into eternal damnation by God.
God then creates the Earth, and on it Adam and Eve. Both are still granted with the power of free will, even after Satan had abused this power. God has still granted it to them and provides the paradise known as Eden for their home. It is there that they are told by God not to eat from the tree of knowledge, but because they have free will they have the freedom and power to choose...