I need to analyze this quote from Paradise Lost and and show image, symbol or theme.  "Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall"

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The quote you have identified is very important to the entire work of John Milton because, in this one phrase, lies Milton's entire belief about free will, a vital concept when we come to understand theology and God's relationship with his creation. Talking about Satan in Book 3 of this excellent epic narrative, God tells Jesus how he made Satan "just and right," then saying that this is defined as being "Sufficient to have stood, but free to fall." Thus God makes us and his creatures with everything we need to metaphorically "stand" in relationship with God and maintain our upright character, but at the same time, he has not made us like unthinking robots. Indeed, he has given us the freedom to choose our own paths, and just like Satan, we are free to "fall" away from following God if that is what we choose to do. The key is though that this is our decision: nothing that is forced upon us by God. The choice is ours.

jon0111 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The theme here is free will versus predestination. God knows that Adam and Eve will fall, but Milton is telling us that God gave them the choice. Even though God knows what will happen, he places the responsibility on the individual. Knowing what will happen does not mean causing it to happen--after all, who knows what choices you are going to make if not God? God explains a few lines later, "Not free, what proof could they have given..." (3.103) of their true feelings? In other words, if Adam's fall was merely God's will--or predestination--what difference would it make for Adam to repent or God to punish? Sin and constancy have no meaning without choice. Through sin, suffering and repentance, "man, therefore, shall find grace..." (3.131).