Paradise Lost

Reward and Punishment: An Analysis of God’s Tests in Milton’s Works College

John Milton once wrote that all of his writings were moved “solely by a sense of duty” to God which propelled him to continue writing despite the fact that for part of his life he struggled with his relationship with the Church of England and the English monarchy. Milton likely viewed his struggles, however, as tests from God which he had to overcome in order to carry out God’s will. Throughout his works, Milton often wrote about God’s trials and tests for men, which were intended to reveal the truth about their faith and devotion. The characters in Milton’s poetry and prose would either overcome their obstacles and be rewarded or fail in their struggles and be punished for their lack of obedience to their creator. Indeed, Milton uses the characterization of Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost, and the characterization of Lord General Fairfax and Lord General Cromwell in Sonnets XV and XVI, to reveal the message that God rewards those who act in devotion to Him and punishes those who ignore His will and fall to temptation.

In Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve are troubled by the idea that their free will may lead them to defy God and disobey his orders. When Eve has an unsettling dream about eating from the Tree of Knowledge even though...

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