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ENGL 300- Essay#1: Interpretation of John Milton’s Quote

Aug 25, 2023

Essay 1—Graded Diagnostic (Brief Full-Process Essay): Compose a brief essay based on your interpretation of the quotation from John Milton’s Paradise Lost: “The mind is its place, and in itself Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” (Satan speaking to his best friend, Beelzebub, in Book 1, lines 254-255)

*It is not solely events themselves that determine our emotional reaction, but also how the mind makes sense of them (a core principle of CBT (cognitive behavior therapy).

THREE (3) pages maximum!

Include a Thesis Statement (one sentence summary, last sentence of introductory paragraph). The essay MUST include a Works Cited page. minimum three (3) sources: personal example(s) acceptable but DO NOT count as sources. The quote alone should be analyzed: no need to include any additional information about John Milton or Paradise Lost.

Interpretation of John Milton’s Quote

John Milton in his infamous Paradise Lost writes:

“The mind is its place, and in itself

Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” (Book 1, lines 254-255)

The well-known war cry of Satan from Paradise Lost celebrates the intellect’s endurance of both physical and psychological pain. Milton disputes Satan’s claims by emphasizing the suffering of the fallen angels throughout the poem. Milton demonstrates how the fallen angels, despite their suffering, possess an unbreakable will that enables them to turn significant setbacks into chances for development and rejuvenation. In Paradise Lost, Satan’s statement thus introduces a key idea: the mind’s capacity to understand the significance of sad losses and to convert setbacks into the start of brand-new, unanticipated experiences.

When Satan claims that the intellect can “build a heaven out of hell,” he is making the point that it can overcome common bodily and mental problems. He contends that since he still has the inner life he has always known, no amount of solitude or aging can change a person’s inner existence. Man claims that because the mind is a “location” in and of itself, he does not need to be cut off from his own, powerful intellect by outside alterations. By saying that his soul is precisely the same as it was in paradise, with the difference that it is now free in hell, he closes on a positive note. As a result, his speech also serves as a self-motivational speech to remind the man that he can utilize his imagination to get through the intense physical and mental anguish he is currently experiencing in hell.

Milton refutes Satan’s assertions by enumerating a variety of distressing situations that cause the fallen angels to feel cut off from their former selves. Even though they are “in awe at their horrible metamorphosis,” the fallen angels are unable to turn hell into heaven. Their wits are of little use to them once they realize they are permanently “bled out” from the Books of Life. No matter how crafty Satan is, the thunder scars God’s wrath inflicted on his face cannot be healed. The phrase “a terrible change awful to utter” used by Satan might be seen as an acceptance of hell’s punishment. The entire list of concerns mentioned contradicts Satan’s utopian claim that the power of reason and imagination can turn a prison into a paradise.

Amazingly, though, the fallen angels’ behavior proves Satan’s assertion that the human mind is powerful and enduring. Soon after opening his eyes, a hell-bound angel addresses his “unconquerable” will and refuses to acknowledge the misery of those around him. Since he now had a better awareness of both his enemy and himself, Satan adds that the thunder that left wounds on his face also served to reinforce his internal forces. Additionally, Beelzebub stresses the invincibility of the mind and soul and how his blood has suddenly grown more vibrant. According to the angels, when God rejected them, He only entirely subjugated one-half of their energies (their bodies), leaving the other half free (their minds). Satan’s confident claim that they would never totally be overcome by mental impediments is similar to the angels’ claim that they will be “self-raised” to their former heights.

Satan sets the tone for an epic poem that repeatedly praises man’s capacity to imagine and construct a better world for himself than the one in which he is now suffering by beginning his remarks with a hymn to the capabilities of the mind. By describing the numerous challenges and tribulations the fallen angels would face in hell, Milton refutes Satan’s assertions. He does, however, make a strong argument against Satan’s optimism by highlighting the angels’ willingness to put up with exterior adversity and come up with solutions for a better existence. Milton’s well-known faith in the intellectual capacity of people served as an inspiration for the Romantic age of writers, who appreciated and explored the depths of the individual mind more than any previous school of poets.

Work Cited

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