The Mind Is Its Own Place

What is the meaning of the quote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven,” from Paradise Lost, Book I, by John Milton, and does it have any connection to the pastoral theme in As You Like It by Shakespeare?

Excerpt Book I

... Farewell, happy fields,Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail,Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell,Receive thy new possessor—one who bringsA mind not to be changed by place or time.The mind is its own place, and in itselfCan make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.What matter where, if I be still the same,And what I should be, all but less than heWhom thunder hath made greater?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When meaning is unclear, it is important to analyze a quotation in context with the rest of the text [I've inserted the whole contextual quote above]. You must ask questions like: Who is speaking? What is the subject spoken of? Is there a conflict, a resolution, a conclusion, a need, a paradox stated?

In this quotation, the speaker is Lucifer, or Satan, also called by Milton "the lost Archangel." He and his legions have just fallen from Heaven to the newly made Hell. Lucifer is adjusting his psychological reactions to their new state of being.

"Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,"
Said then the lost Archangel, "this the seat
That we must change for Heaven?—this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so,..."

He is saying farewell to the joys and happy environs of Heaven and hello to the misery and "horrors" that now surround him. Milton comes close to giving Lucifer a note of remorse or regret at what his rebellion has cost him, though the hint of remorse is immediately...

(The entire section contains 576 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team