Milton Justify “The Ways Of God To Men” how far it is true? As a deep and Careful study of “Paradise Lost” shows that at the very outset of the book we come to know about the theme of Milton’s Paradise Lost. It is a very good technique or trait of his art of writing that he announces the theme of this book in the very opening lines so that the readers could get a better understanding of the real subject matter of this poem in the next coming text of the poem. Though the story of this is about the fall of Adam and Eve and their redemption yet the theme which had been handled in the P.L. was of universal appeal.
It is well known that the fall of Adam is due to his disobedience. Satan in the guise of a serpent approaches Eve, flatters her and tempts her to eat the fruit of a forbidden tree. After eating or having taken the fruit of the forbidden tree, Eve approaches Adam who because of his love for Eve, takes the fruit from her generous hand and eats it.
This very act of disobedience gives rise to the question that whatsoever may be the reason for their disobedience of God’s commandment, one thing is very clear that their act brought death into the world. Therefore, they are not perpetually and eternally condemned because both of them repent over their sin and finally or eventually are regenerated by Christ’s act of sacrifice on the cross.
The motive or purpose behind this writing of the grand epic is to “justify the ways of God to man”. The justification of the ways of God to men are made by John Milton in different ways. In the first place, he justifies the ways of God to men in a logical way. He proves that God held men responsible for their sin because he made them quite perfectly. Moreover, God sent Raphael to warn them against Satan’s intentions of reducing them. At the next place, Milton justifies the ways of God to men in a religious manner. He proves this fact that God has the ability to bring good out of the evil action of Adam and Eve. For this, God created the world. God placed this new creation in heaven in the position vacated by fallen angels. God also blessed Adam with the ability to repent which ultimately caused his forgiveness.
On the contrary, Satan remained unrepented and thus was not forgiven or pardoned. In addition to this, God permits Christ, his son, to adopt the role of man and protect himself From Satan’s temptation. Christ is not tempted from Satan’s temptation; rather he sacrifices himself on the cross and in this way defeats Satan and finally redeems Adam from the original sin. On the third place, Milton justifies the ways of God to men in a scientific way. He tells us that God makes the evil of death an instrument of goodness. To simplify this statement, we can say that death becomes God’s instrument for releasing away man’s corruption without which corruption would have choked the earth. It is also a phenomenon of life that if there had not been an act of death in the world which means releasing free from the facts of worries, sorrows or rejoices, amusements, etc. of life.
Without it, our world would have become a place of monotony or a living hell. So, we see that death comes to man as a relief from old age and disease. At the last place, Milton justifies God’s ways to men or action to men in a poetic manner. The development of the characters of Adam and Eve is a solid proof in this regard. When Adam and Eve appeared in the poem first time, they were really charming children. After committing the sin of eating the fruit of a forbidden tree, they nonetheless remained children. They were sorry of their sin and thus through the act of repentance, they learn compassion, charity and humility which they were lacking in the days of innocence in Paradise. So when they leave Paradise, they are more attractive human beings than they were during their stay in the Garden of Eden.
So, we see that this is how Milton presents the justification of the ways of God to men in a very simple and clear cut way in order to purify the heart of man rather than his intellect. One thing which becomes very prominent is that Milton gives much stress on Christian concept of redemption in Paradise Lost. It was Milton’s intention that he did not want to tell the Biblical stories but wanted to produce a mystic mood in the reader.Though there had been much criticism on the technique of presenting God’s ways to men yet we, being the readers of Milton’s Paradise Lost, do not find solid and apt reasons that Milton had failed to justify the ways of God to men as some other critics thought. They had tried to argue again and again by saying that the introduction of paganism is quite out of place in a religious poem.
Though they have presented their plea yet their argument does not take much weight. In the character of Satan, actually Milton condemned the concept of hero; based on revenge, hatred, self-love and pride. These were such qualities or traits of heroism which were presented or depicted in the classical epic of Homer and Virgil. On the contrary, Milton negated these ‘above mentioned qualities of heroism which were based on pagan qualities of wrong heroism but he had presented new qualities of heroism based on love, understanding, tolerance, etc. which were the true qualities of a new concept of a Christian hero in the character of Adam. It had also rightly been said that if he was attracted by pagan mythology then he would never have invoked “Heavenly Muse”. In other words; that was God to help him in writing this great poem. The very sound and solid example in this regard was seen in the lines of the poem in which Milton attributed Mount Oreb over Mount Aonin, showed his justification of the ways of God to men.
In the very opening lines of the poem, Milton himself announces the theme of Paradise Lost and utters with such magnitude as to impress on us the fact that no ordinary or classical Muse could ever deal with the lofty theme that he himself was going to handle in his poem. Coleridge has rightly commented on this that while Homer’s epics are typically Greek poems but the theme of P.L. is something universal. Another prominent critic named as Saurat had also said aptly that
“The theme of Paradise Lost teaches that passion and reason are the two powers in man, must be in harmonious equilibrium, passionate triumphant over reason is the source of all evils.”
To conclude this above discussion, we can say vehemently and openly that the theme of Paradise Lost which was handled by John Milton, was really lofty and sublime one because he had very beautifully and aptly justified the ways of God to men which were of universal appeal in their true contents. A prominent critic of English Literature had very beautifully pointed out the contrast between the true delight of love and the false delight which led to sorrow. It was Frank Hermode who had pointed out this above mentioned statement and further, was of the views that false delight of love was When Adam dominated by passion instead of reason; disobeyed God’s order and led to sorrow. This is the very reality which had been presented by Milton through the lofty theme “of justification of God’s ways to men.”