THE MARRIAGE of HEAVEN and HELL, Plate 3, (E 34):
"Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and
Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence."
In the passage below we see the contraries at work personified in Los and Albion. What I see here is Los being forced into contrary positions by Albion's behavior. 'Albion sat...Brooding on evil'.
Albion was trapped in a self destructive mental state from which he could not extricate himself. Albion accuses Los and makes demands. Los' opposition begins the breaking down of the intractable disease with with Albion was afflicted. Albion begins to reflect on the consequences of his misguided decisions.
Milton, PLATE 42 (E 189)
"Thus Albion sat, studious of others in his pale disease:
Brooding on evil: but when Los opend the Furnaces before him:
He saw that the accursed things were his own affections,
And his own beloveds: then he turn'd sick! his soul died within
Also Los sick & terrified beheld the Furnaces of Death
And must have died, but the Divine Saviour descended
Among the infant loves & affections, and the Divine Vision wept
Like evening dew on every herb upon the breathing ground
Albion spoke in his dismal dreams: O thou deceitful friend
Worshipping mercy & beholding thy friend in such affliction:
Los! thou now discoverest thy turpitude to the heavens.
I demand righteousness & justice. O thou ingratitude!
Give me my Emanations back[,] food for my dying soul!
My daughters are harlots! my sons are accursed before me.
Enitharmon is my daughter: accursed with a fathers curse!
O! I have utterly been wasted! I have given my daughters to
So spoke Albion in gloomy majesty, and deepest night
Of Ulro rolld round his skirts from Dover to Cornwall."
Albion is his self righteous desire to be the object of mercy forces Los to direct his mercy to those whom Albion may harm, rejecting Albions pleas. Albion by not showing mercy, forces cruelty on Los. Albion demanded righteousness and justice for himself with no thought for the harm that his failures were causing others. Albion could not be healed of his sickness by being affirmed in the symptoms he was displaying. (Think of the alcoholic and the enabler.) Los provided the contraries so that progress might take place.
"Los answerd. Righteousness & justice I give thee in return
For thy righteousness! but I add mercy also, and bind
Thee from destroying these little ones: am I to be only
Merciful to thee and cruel to all that thou hatest[?]
Thou wast the Image of God surrounded by the Four Zoa's
Three thou hast slain! I am the Fourth: thou canst not destroy
Thou art in Error; trouble me not with thy righteousness.
I have innocence to defend and ignorance to instruct:
I have no time for seeming; and little arts of compliment,
In morality and virtue: in self-glorying and pride."
In this little tableau contrariness was the result as well as the cause of progress. Error has not been removed but progress is being made in recognizing and defining it. The process must continue because 'One Error not remov'd, will destroy a human Soul."
'Why should Punishment Weave the Veil with Iron Wheels of War When Forgiveness might it Weave with Wings of Cherubim' Jerusalem, Plate 22