Book 1 Notes from Paradise Lost

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Paradise Lost Book 1

Milton begins his epic poem Paradise Lost with an invocation to a muse. He does this for two reasons: he believes the muse will help him write, and invoking a muse is a convention of epic poems such as Homer's Iliad and Virgil's Aeneid. He wants the muse to sing about man's first disobedience.

Topic Tracking: Obedience & Disobedience 1

Milton explains that his goal in the poem involves justifying the ways of God to men. He explains that God threw rebel angels out of heaven into hell, a scene which will be discussed in detail later on in the poem. The poem's action shifts to hell, where Satan and his confidante Beelzebub have just been thrown. Lying in a fiery lake, Satan and Beelzebub debate whether they should try to get revenge on God by force or guile. Beelzebub feels that God cannot be overcome, but Satan is confident that he can defeat God. Satan tells Beelzebub that "the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n." Book 1, lines 254-5

Topic Tracking: Authorship & Possession 1

Satan tries to make the best of the situation in hell, explaining "better to reign in hell, than serve in heav'n." Book 1, line 263. He tells a host of fallen angels to get up, and in an amusing scene they begin to dig into the ground, unearthing gold and other minerals. They build a temple known as Pandemonium, which will serve as the location of Satan's throne and a meeting place. This is an example of the ways in which Satan and his followers attempt to mimic the glory and splendor of heaven in hell.

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