Original sin has a curious, irresolute connection to human freedom. God?s fundamental gifts to His children?reason, imagination, free will?are the very things that give men the desire to sin as well as the ability to resist. This combination makes the Fall of Man a paradoxical event, one that seems inevitable at the same time it appears avoidable. We were not created perfect; rather, we were created temptable, and with vivid imaginations. As shown in John Milton?s Paradise Lost, such a condition of independence makes for a rich road between temptation and the outcome, which can only be one of two opposites: standing or falling. Adam and Eve find themselves tempted, and, equipped only with innocence, they fall. But alternate possibilities weave ephemerally throughout the rest of Milton?s epic, possibilities of goodness and lasting purity that accentuate the sad precariousness of Eve?s fall. In hinting at these auxiliary stories, Milton subtly reminds us that steadfastness in the face of evil was always attainable, and in Paradise Regained, he shows Jesus divinely embodying this capability.
[...] And, as these changes are few in number, it is Lewis' way of reminding us of the positive possibilities of human free will that exist alongside the negative. Goodness, he is saying, is not incompatible with imperfection. Even in Paradise Lost, where all readers know the end of the story, there is a hint of this openness. The virtue that suffuses the initial descriptions of Adam and Eve seems almost good enough to last, as Milton describes them by saying their looks divine/ The image of their glorious Maker shone/ Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure” (PL IV.291-3). [...]
[...] Pure goodness in God's children will be possible yet; Jesus incarnate will regain Paradise in a lonely Middle East desert, and the Green Lady will prove it is possible to be imperfect and unfallen, a second Eve in her new world. First in this analysis, it is necessary to understand the mechanics of temptation. All three scenes of temptation take place as dialogues, Satan speaking to Jesus and Eve, an unnamed demon speaking to the Green Lady through Weston. In this the authors are able to bring life to the psychology of the progressing battle between duty and desire, two presences that exist in different degrees in all three characters (Jesus is all duty and little desire, in contrast to the desires of the Green Lady and the even greater desires of Eve). [...]
[...] The temptation of Jesus Christ in the desert is a powerful example of steadfastness, in which sheer divinity negates Satan's manipulations and appeals to pride. The Green Lady and Eve, though, are ill equipped to handle the demonic half-truths that confront them. The Green Lady stands where Eve falls because of Ransom, a human intercessor that could never have played his role had Eve not fallen in the first place. In looking at these three narratives, God's design and mastery are staggering. [...]
[...] For God, as stated in Book VII of Paradise Lost, does intend a heavenly lot for man; he made it possible for man to “open to themselves at length the way/ Up hither,” but this could be done only by “degrees of merit raised” (156- 8). To seize this gift is to undo it. However, the idea is present in all three temptations that, in acting outside of explicit instruction, they might actually fulfill God's plan in a deeper way. [...]
[...] Logically-minded and cognizant of the great works of evil on Earth, Ransom quickly overcomes this temptation; he recognizes something precious in the staggering purity of the Green Lady that was never possible on Earth after the Fall. He finds himself “longing that he might, if only for once, have seen the great Mother of his own race thus, in her innocence and splendor,” and then he makes the leap to understanding. things, other blessings, other glories,' he murmured. can make good use of all that happens. [...]
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