Notes on Paradise Lost Themes

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Paradise Lost Topic Tracking: Authorship & Possession

Topic Tracking: Authorship & Possession

Book 1

Authorship & Possession 1: 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. Since the mind possesses itself, it can dictate its condition. This is the ideology underlying Satan's rationale that he doesn't have to obey God.

Book 2

Authorship & Possession 2: Sin agrees to unlock the gates and let Satan pass, telling him "thou art my father, thou my author, thou my being gav'st me; whom should I obey but thee, whom follow?" Book 2, lines 864-5. In giving birth to her, Satan is Sin's "author"/creator. This metaphor of author as parent figure or creator is echoed later in the poem.

Book 3

Authorship & Possession 3: God describes the time of the Last Judgment, when the world will burn and "God shall be all in all." Book 3, line 341. Unlike Satan's model of one possessing himself, God advocates a model in which he possesses all.

Book 4

Authorship & Possession 4: Soon, Adam decides that it's time to go to bed, and Eve obliges, stating "my author and disposer, what thou bidd'st unargued I obey." Book 4, lines 635-6. As Sin says that Satan is the author and creator of her, Eve does the same with Adam.

Book 5

Authorship & Possession 5: Abdiel argues that since God made them, they should respect him. Satan counters that yes, God made them, but not the Son - therefore the Son can be disrespected. Here, Satan argues that one who hasn't created him cannot possess him. Satan continues to assert that nothing but the self can possess itself.

Book 7

Authorship & Possession 6: After the people in this new world spend enough time being obedient, heaven and earth will become "one kingdom, joy and union without end." Book 7, line 161. In this way, God will finally possess both heaven and earth as one. His ideology of possessing all rather than the individual possessing itself, will prevail.

Authorship & Possession 7: Then man was formed to govern over all in the image of God, and then woman. Since man is "substituting" for God in this way, he may possess Eve. Eve cannot possess herself, or she would be following Satan's theory.

Book 8

Authorship & Possession 8: This divine figure calls himself the "author of all this thou seest above, or round thee or beneath." Book 8, lines 317-8. Since God has created these things, he is the author of them. This is a continuation of the author/creator metaphor.

Book 9

Authorship & Possession 9: The more Satan looks at Eve, the more jealous he becomes that she was not made for his pleasure, and he regains all his hate. Since Satan did not create Eve or have her created for him, he cannot possess her. This fuels his desire to possess her through her transgression.

Book 10

Authorship & Possession 10: Secondly, woman is given pain in childbirth, and the Son explains "to thy husband's will thine shall submit, he over thee shall rule." Book 10, lines 195-6. Again, man, created after God's image, will possess woman.

Authorship & Possession 11: Sin says "these are thy magnific deeds, thy trophies, which thou view'st as not thine own, thou art their author and prime architect." Book 10, lines 354-6. Sin explains that Satan, in causing deeds to happen, is their author. This reiterates a prior assertion of hers.

Book 12

Authorship & Possession 12: Adam is content with this knowledge, and Michael tells him to inquire no more but have faith, virtue, patience, temperance, and love - then he will possess an inner paradise happier than Paradise. If Adam chooses to follow God, he will possess happiness. If he attempted to acquire more knowledge, he would be following in Satan's path of striving for self-possession and transgress God's rule.

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