Free Will in Milton's Paradise Lost

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Free will is defined as “The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion.” This definition of the term illustrates the necessity for free will to be present in a relationship with God. In order to have a relationship with God we must posses free will, because free will gives us the power to have faith in God, and put trust in God.

According to the Bible, and Milton’s Paradise Lost, Free will did not exist in the world until God influenced Adam and Eve. God told Adam and Eve that the one rule they must follow in the garden of Eden is to never eat from the tree of knowledge. Adam and Eve took this command and blindly followed it because they were told to do so by God, and they did not even realize that they could disobey him. It was not until Satan invaded the garden to coerce Eve in to eating the apple from the tree of knowledge when the element of free will came in to play. Once Satan tempted Eve and gave her the choice of disobeying God, Eve then had the opportunity to use her free will and decide to go against Gods will. Eves decision to eat the apple from the tree of knowledge represents her selfish desires overpowering her will to conform to authoritative power. This act of defiance also represents her desire for the unknown to be revealed, and how this desire outweighs her fear of death, promised by God if Adam or Eve chose to eat the fruit. When Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge their actions symbolize the humans fall from paradise, and the innocent essence of the human is lost forever. Eve comes to Adam and wakes him in the night to tell him that she has eaten from the tree of knowledge and has not suffered death. By hearing this, Adam is forced to make the decision between the love of Eve and the love of God. Adam feels as though he can not live without Eve and must eat the fruit to maintain his relationship with Eve, so he eats the fruit without much hesitation.

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