Monday, November 11, 2013

Milton's Vengeful God

As we've already discussed while reading Paradise Lost, God is considered one of the more distant characters. He has little dialogue and usually communicates with Adam via angels. There are times where God seems to be more than just ambiguous and borders on being spiteful.

For example, Milton makes it seem that God created mankind to show Satan that he is replaceable and not missed. Later, in Paradise Regained, Milton explains that Satan has even been allowed into heaven at times, as shown by his accusation of Job. Of course, we all know how well that went for Satan. God seems to have simply let the challenge happen for the sake of showing Satan that he really doesn't have nearly as much power and influence as he may have previously thought.

It seems to me that God's love for his children has always been a main tenet of Christianity, though not necessarily emphasized as much as it is in our understanding of deity. Still, Milton's God seems extremely vengeful, especially towards Satan. Was Milton trying hard to recreate the God of Genesis, who certainly comes across as a stronger advocate of justice than mercy? I think the direct relationship between God and Satan is one that is rarely addressed in scripture, so Milton would have quite a range of creative liberty when illustrating their interactions. Do you feel as though Milton successfully 'justifies' to men God's apparently harsh ways to Satan?

1 comment:

  1. I honestly hadn't thought of it that way, but I definitely see what you mean. I feel like when people refer the God of the Old Testament, they are referring to a more vengeful God who demands justice and strict obedience to strict commandments to keep everyone in check at all times, whereas the God of the New Testament always seems more merciful. There's an argument to be made that the difference is Christ's Atonement, without which salvation was impossible. In terms of justifying God's apparently harsh ways to Satan, I'm not sure. I feel like for Milton the understanding that Satan was the cause of the loss of Paradise and that he is the father of all lies was justification enough for any harsh treatment of Satan