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On Paradise Lost, Book Three

Perhaps the most striking element of book three of Paradise Lost is the character of God the father. What is striking is that the image Milton presents is not one of pure goodness; rather, it is of a God that shares all the human emotions such as anger, wrath, kindness, mercy and so on. Apparently, this accounts for the creation of Adam "in his own image," although human frailty and lack of infinite wisdom cause the race to fall short of the mark. Curiously enough, though, Satan shares in manís weaknesses, and seems to be a sympathetic character. A natural question of why God has mercy for man, and not for Satan and his followers, is, at this point in the poem, unclear. Perhaps the real issue is that God sees Satan as a less pitiful creation than the Son, or even mankind. The issue of free will comes into play. Milton seems to be implying that while mankind is incapable of making wise choices when tempted, Satan should have known better, as he was closer to God in creation.

God does make a rather odd move in the third book by charging his Son to live as a man. He states that he loves man as he does all of his works, and that man must eventually meet doom (meaning judgment) without the Sonís empathy. This clearly sets up the Son as the savior of mankind, but Milton does not yet explain why. Apparently, it is not the place of God to redeem mankind without the Son taking on their "sins," still, it seems unclear why God has the same emotions as man yet passes judgment upon all creation. This seems to be only by virtue of the fact that he has created them. A question becomes quite clearóif God created Satan, the angels and man, then why did he create them imperfectly? The answer may lie in the following books.

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