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“The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of...

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dolfish | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 14, 2013 at 8:32 AM via web

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“The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven…”

(John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book II)

With reference to the above quote, discuss its aptness with reference to the pastoral theme in As You Like It.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 14, 2013 at 8:54 AM (Answer #1)

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This quote is particularly important in talking about the way in which the mind is such a powerful force in determining whether the given situation of a character is greeted positively or negatively. The most apt example of this of course is in Duke Senior and his band of followers who have been exiled from court and have now set up their own rival court in the Forest of Arden. Note how he describes his lot in Act II scene 7:

Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy:
This wide and universal theatre
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in.

Even though he has been exiled from the city and court life, there are obvious benefits to his situation that allows him to recognise he and his followers have so much to be thankful for. This supports one of the dominant themes of the play, which is the way that rural life is compared and contrasted to the sophisticated life of the court. Even though Duke Senior is technically exiled and cast out from his former position and way of life, he is able to reinterpret that exile and see his new home in the Forest of Arden as possessing many benefits compared to his former way of life. He, in the words of Milton's quote, has made a "heaven of hell," and through this Shakespeare is able to comment on the many drawbacks of living a life in the city.

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