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The Positive and Negative Consequences of the Original Sin

Milton’s Paradise Lost deviates significantly from the unadorned version of man’s fall from grace located in Genesis. This, however, was not a issue for Milton who (as a Puritan) believed that the embellishments he wrote were divinely inspired considering that God worked via the individual, not by way of organized religion. Because of this inventiveness, Paradise Lost, which traces heavenly events from the fall of Satan by means of the fall of man, has been interpreted in different methods. 1 such interpretation, discussed by Lovejoy in “Milton and the Paradox of the Fortunate Fall,” is that though the fall introduced man to evil, it also propagated excellent. Milton’s text in several techniques embodies this paradox, showing each the rewards and losses to Adam and Eve, as properly as mankind, which resulted from original sin.

Milton is ambiguous no matter whether expertise, the most clear acquisition of consuming from the Tree of Expertise, is a benefit or a detriment to man. The tree is forbidden not since understanding is injurious to man, but as “the only sign of our [their] obedience left/ Amongst so many indicators of power and rule” (Paradise Lost, Book 4, lines 428-429). Expertise is disallowed as a test of man’s faith, not simply because it will hurt his loyalty. Satan, even so, postulates that their lack of understanding is what leads man to stick to God: “do they only stand/ By ignorance? Is that their happy state,/ The proof of their obedience” (4, 518-520). His interpretation is necessarily false due to the fact specific information was revealed to Adam and Eve. Their 1st obtain, then, is the knowledge beyond the “lowly wis[dom]” which Raphael offered them (8, 173). Milton complicates this achieve, even so, simply because it is questionable no matter whether man ever necessary more than the expertise of “daily life,” except to satiate curiosity and add “anxious cares” (8, 193 185). In this way Milton permits for a particular amount of fortune from their fall, but it is a trivial acquire.

Yet another murky acquisition that Adam and Eve obtain from their disobedience is the “Knowledge of great and ill” (eight, 324). Although this makes it possible for them to see the difference amongst great and evil, it is superfluous considering that they had been already “sufficient to have stood” against evil (3, 99). In his function Aeropageta, Milton explains how man eventually benefitted from this wisdom, even though Adam and Eve did not. He argues, “He that can apprehend and consider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and however prefer that which is really far better, he is the correct wayfaring Christian.” In this piece Milton shows that with the information of evil man is a lot more tempted, and so his resistance is a higher great. By way of this ambiguity Milton degrades the most clear of Adam and Eve’s acquire, information, displaying that if any very good resulted it was not enjoyed by Adam and Eve.

Though the acquisition of understanding is intentionally vague, Milton is clear on numerous of man’s losses from the fall. These losses are plainly listed in Book Ten when God enumerates man’s punishment. Eve is condemned to painful childbirth and submission to her husband while Adam need to toil against the barren ground for meals. Although these punishments contrast the paradise Adam and Eve were living in, they are not specifically harsh. The most severe punishment is not straight spoken of by God for the duration of this exchange, but is the fulfillment of his original threat. Adam and Eve are both assigned to mortality: “for dust thou art, and shalt to dust return” (ten, 208). This final punishment was necessary to restore the universal hierarchy (God, the angels, man, beasts, the fallen angels). As expertise was equated with godliness, “in the day/ Ye eat thereof your eyes… shall completely be then/Opened and cleared, and ye shall be as Gods” (9, 705-710), man had grow to be as well close to Heaven by gaining knowledge.

To put them back in their appropriate hierarchical order, their immortality had to be taken so that they had been significantly less comparable to the angels and God. In this way the fall necessitated man’s mortality and produced a lot more hardships for him. Man’s fall from innocence also paralleled him with his corruptor, Satan. As is shown in Book four, Satan is tormented by the “remembrance from what state/ I [he] fell” so that Hell is usually with him (four, 38-39). Similarly, Adam and Eve mourn the paradise they have lost generating the corrupted planet seem harsher. Despite the fact that this contrast is a lot more poignant for Adam and Eve, it is a extended-term loss as well because the Bible reminds their descendants of what they could have had. Through this parallel, as effectively as the direct punishments for original sin, Milton shows the a lot of negatives of man’s fall from grace.

Milton does not cast the fall as narrowly deplorable, but also reveals several positives that outcome from it. This is most clearly seen in Adam’s response to Michael’s prophesy in Book 12. He is awed “that all this very good of evil shall produce,/ And evil turn to very good, much more wonderful/ Than that by which creation 1st brought forth/ Light out of darkness” (12, 469-472). By means of this quote Milton reveals that good will outcome from man’s fall by establishing the supremacy of excellent over evil and Heaven more than Hell. This reaction also shows the excellent that God’s glory will be elevated because of man’s sin in giving man much more purpose to praise God in addition to out of gratitude for creation. Though Michael describes considerably bad preceding any very good, in the extended-term man will benefit by way of salvation from the Son. This coveted redemption “mak[es] the earlier and unhappy episodes in the story appear as instrument to that [happy] consummation, and, indeed, as its needed condition,” displaying that without falling man could not have earned such lofty salvation (Lovejoy, 179). Via this “God with Man unites,” bringing man into a closer connection with God than he had in Eden (12, 382). Through the salvation and the elevated glory of God Milton shows how great resulted from the fall of man from innocence.

Milton is distinctly unclear on no matter whether man’s fall was fortunate or not. By vividly displaying each the positives and negatives that resulted from original sin, Milton reveals that the evil of sin came from the goodness of Eden, but that the goodness of salvation came from evil as effectively. It is not possible to accuse Paradise Lost of supporting the theological felix culpa (fortunate fall) to do so would be ignoring significant portions of the function. Even so, it is also inadequate to conclude that Milton was blind to the pros of man’s fall. As Lovejoy says, “the fall could never be sufficiently condemned and lamented and likewise, when all its consequences had been considered, it could in no way be sufficiently rejoiced over” (Lovejoy, 162). Because of this, it need to be believed that Milton’s purpose was not to decide regardless of whether the fall was eventually tragic or advantageous, but to attempt to “justify the approaches of God to men” (1, 26).


Lovejoy, Arthur O. “Milton and the Paradox of the Fortunate Fall.” ELH 4.three (1937): 161-79. JSTOR. Internet. 7 Dec. 2009. <>.

Milton, John. Areopagitica. Vol. III, Portion 3. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14, 2001. 7 Dec. 2009. <>.

Milton,John. Paradise lost and other poems. New York: Signet Classic, 2003. Print.
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