"Sufficient to Have Stood, Though Free to Fall": The Parabolic Narrative of Free Will in Paradise Lost
AuthorBizik, Amy Stewart
AdvisorUlreich, John C.
Committee ChairUlreich, John C.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract"`Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall': The Parabolic Narrative of Free Will in Paradise Lost" demonstrates how reading Milton's Paradise Lost as a parable offers new insight into the lessons of the poem. A parable is a narrative with a moral lesson; it teaches its lesson by using familiar topics in unexpected comparisons that draw readers into the text. Reading Milton's poem in light of this definition offers new ways to discern the themes and figurative language in Milton's poem. Specifically, seeing Milton's poem through the lens of the parable of the Prodigal Son helps readers to better understand the tensions and relationships between the characters and God. This dissertation reveals how looking at Milton's characters and their roles in a new way--as complementary parts of a parabolic narrative--enables us to better understand how the characters function in Paradise Lost. By examining the characters as parabolic figures, we see how they help readers perceive themselves in relation to a broader, universal experience as humans and how they teach readers the logic of free will. Seeing God's actions from the divergent experiences and perspectives of the main characters brings new understanding of Milton's message of the nature of God's grace and free will. When read as a parable, the poem transforms readers' knowledge of free will from an abstract theological conception to an experience of personal grace. My dissertation explores how Paradise Lost is a parabolic poem that depicts divine and human relationships in order to demonstrate to readers the logic in the radical idea that doing God's will enables freedom. It demonstrates how considering Paradise Lost as a parable helps readers to recognize their position in the world, to experience the depths of Christianity, and to gain knowledge of themselves and their relationships with God.