No Man Is An Island Meaning In Essay
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
This famous verse of John Donne's, a great poet of the early 1600s, who was closely associated with the metaphysical school of poetry, is characterized by its unusual degree of intellectualism, but it is also highly dramatic in its cadences and repeition. Characteristic of Donne's metaphysical poetry is the conceit, a fanciful metaphor that makes an unexpected and striking comparison, although it is briefer than those of the Elizabethan poets. The conceit in this poem is the surprising comparison of man to an island in a negative sense [as not being an island].
By means of this conceit, Donne contends that all humans share in every experience:
Any man's death diminishes me
Because I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, there is a responsibility of one man for another that is implied. This concept has been passed down throughout the ages and into different cultures. For instance, the pioneering pilot and author, Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry declares in his work, Le Petit Prince, "Etre homme, etre responsable" [To be man is to be made responsible].
Moreover, with no man existing alone, there is a community of man that shares in suffering. And, by empathizing with others' suffering, the individual recognizes the common humanity of all mankind. This concept was exemplified during World War II, for instance, with many Americans' convictions that the Western world had an obligation to fight Nazi Germany and its atrocities against Poland, Belgium, and France, as well as its bombings of Great Britain. Indeed, then, when the death knell "tolls," it tolls for everyone. By the same token, when there is new life, all mankind shares in this, too.
Is it possible for a person to live alone in this world? According to many facts, many people argue that it is extremely impossible for a person to live alone in this world. People need one another in order to survive. Moreover, a person cannot live emotionally, if he or she lacks communication or sharing of his or her emotions with other people. On the other hand, other people believe that it is possible for a person to live alone. In this case, they state that, given any circumstances, a person can live freely at any place without the need or help from other people. The poem ‘No Man is an Island’ by John Donne offers a vivid explanation of why man could not live and survive alone (Donne & In Fallon, 1970). Therefore, before agree or disagree with the statement it is better analyzing the facts of the statement in order to come up with a concrete opinion.
‘No Man is an Island’ by Donne
The statement was first coined in by John Donne in his poem ‘No Man is an Island’ (Donne & In Fallon, 1970). In his poem, Donne was trying to explain to people that none in this world could form an island alone. All the people are part of an island. If a person happens to die, he or she affects the other people who are around him or her (Donne & In Fallon, 1970). For this reason, people need each other to survive. In this case, people need to share their emotions and problems with one another so that they can be able to survive. On that account, Donne continues to explain that the actions of one person affect many people (Donne & In Fallon, 1970). Therefore, it is extremely impossible for a person to live alone like an island.
In support of this quote, psychologies argue that it is impossible for one to live in isolation from other people. According to psychologist, when a person is emotionally suffering, he or she needs a person to shares his or her problems (Hawkley, Thisted & Cacioppo, 2009). On the other hand, people need one another to share their happy moments together. It is extremely sad for a person to have a happy moment in his or her life and not share the happiness with another person. According to researchers, those people who live alone face many emotional complications like depression. Depression could lead to suicide (Hawkley, Thisted & Cacioppo, 2009). Therefore, psychologists argue that it is impossible for a person to live alone in this world. He or she needs other people to share both happy and sad moments to have a healthy emotional life.
In addition, psychologists argue that the quote ‘No Man is an Island’ by Donne depicts the life of people in a family. This is because, in a family, every member needs to play his or her role in order for the family to function properly (Over & Carpenter, 2009). For example, a mother performs all the domestic chores in the family. In this case, she needs to prepare her husband in the morning for work. In addition, a child needs his or her mother to survive. Moreover, the father acts as the provider in the family (Over & Carpenter, 2009). If one day the father would stop providing for the family, it would be extremely difficult for the other members to survive. They will not have a roof they can call home or food on the table to satisfy their hunger (Over & Carpenter, 2009). Therefore, in accordance to the psychologists, ‘No Man is an Island’ is a powerful statement.
‘No Man is an Island’ from a Religious Perspective
According to religion, one of the Ten Commandments states that a person should love his or her neighbor as he or she should love himself or herself (Mangel, 2007). When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and put this statement among the commandments, He knew what He was saying. This is because, if everybody in this world would hate one another, one could practically live alone. Nobody will be helping one another (Mangel, 2007). For example, if one person has food and the other person suffers from hunger due to lack of food and is denied help, the two people would hate one another. As a result, he or she would die of hunger. For this reason, God saw it best for a person to love the neighbor as he or she loves himself or herself. This is because people need one another in order to survive.
In religion, when God was creating the world, He first created man; then later He created the woman. However, before creating the woman, He saw that man was extremely bored and needed a companion, with whom he could share all what God had created (Mangel, 2007). In addition, when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God sent them to the world, and gave them duties for each to perform while they are together (Mangel, 2007). Each of the duties, which they were given, depended on the two living together in peace and harmony. It is clear that God knew that nobody in this world could live and survive alone. He saw that man needed a woman in order to survive. Moreover, a woman needed a man in order to survive (Mangel, 2007). For this reason, it is extremely difficult for a person to survive in this world alone. Therefore, the statement ‘No Man is an Island’ is true from a religious perspective.
Historical and Psychological View of Statement ‘No Man is an Island’
Psychologists continue to support the quote by stating that people live in this world like a community. According to research, everybody in the community has a duty to serve (Carvallo & Gabriel, 2006). Nobody in a community can perform all the duties alone. In this case, a society has several duties for each person to perform. For example, a society has doctors who attend to the medical needs of the society. On the other hand, drivers exist in the same society for purposes of transporting people to the various destinations. Moreover, the same society has police officers who ensure there is pubic safety to its occupants (Carvallo & Gabriel, 2006). It is clear that nobody can perform these duties on his or her own. For this reason, people depend on one another, thus resulting to a community. Therefore, the quote ‘No Man is an Island’ by Donne is extremely true.
Additionally, psychologists continue to state that people are social characters. According to research, people live together through social interactions with one another (Carvallo & Gabriel, 2006). This is where people need to interact with one another so that they can gain something either tangible or intangible for purposes of survival. In addition, psychologists observe that even communities or nations need to interact with one another (Carvallo & Gabriel, 2006). In this case, different nations create sound social interactions for purposes of helping one another. For instance, certain nations live in deserts. Therefore, they cannot be able to produce food in the country. However, they have technological advancements. On the other hand, other nations live in areas with excellent climatic conditions for food production. However, they do not have technological advancements. As a result, the two nations form excellent social interactions for purposes of helping another. For this reason, no man or a community can isolate itself like an island. Henceforth, the statement ‘No Man is an Island’ is true.
In this same spirit of living together, psychologists indicate that it is impossible for a nation to survive in disunity. In this case, many political leaderspreach unity among the citizens in order to maintain peace and harmony (Carvallo & Gabriel, 2006). Political leaders state that, when people are living together in peace and harmony, they can move mountains. On the other hand, if people are disunited, they can never survive anywhere in the world. In addition, political leaders depend on the unity of their citizens for purposes of being able to achieve their ambitions (Carvallo & Gabriel, 2006). It can be noted that a politician is likely to win an election, when he or she unites people. For this reason, it is clear that people depend on one another, in a nation, in order to survive. Therefore, there is significant truth in the quote ‘No Man is an Island.
Historians have also not been left behind in support of the quote by stating that, based on experiences, nobody in this world can live alone (Raphael, 2012). One excellent example historians use to support this motion is the period of the American Revolution. In the past, the colonialists were successfully able to colonize the Americans because they were in disunity (Raphael, 2012). Historians’ state that, when certain communities in American were living in oppression, it made them weaker. As a result, the colonialists were able to conquer the Americans due to their weakness. However, during the American Revolution, the Americans realized that they would never be able to defeat the colonialists and gain independence when they are in disunity (Raphael, 2012). For this reason, the Americans came together in unity. They planned and calculated their every move and eventually they were able to gain independence (Raphael, 2012). Therefore, learning from historical experience it is extremely clear that people need one another in order to succeed. Hence, the quote ‘No Man is an Island’ is true.
In addition, scientists have also joined in support of the motion stating that many scientific discoveries or victories have been because of working together as a team (Griffins, 2002). Scientists believe that it is because of their team effort that many discoveries are possible. According to their argument, it is because of the work of earlier scientists that the current scientists are able to make significant scientific advancements (Griffins, 2002). Moreover, when scientists are conducting research they create room for other scientists to continue with the research for more discoveries; hence, the statement ‘There is no perfect research’ (Griffins, 2002). An excellent example is the relationship between Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. Einstein would not have made the discoveries he made if it were not for the earlier efforts of Isaac Newton (Griffins, 2002). Therefore, the quote by Donne, ‘No Man is an Island’ is true.
The other groups of intellects who support this quote are the businesspeople. In a business entity, certain structures exist for purposes of ensuring that the entity is successful (Zimmerer, Scarborough & Wilson, 2008). For example, the accounts department duties include calculating all the finances of the organization. On the other hand, the sales and marketing department includes promoting the organization’s products and increasing customer base for the organization. For this reason, business scholars are seeing it as a strategic option for the two departments to work together (Zimmerer, Scarborough & Wilson, 2008). This is where the accounts department finds solutions to saving money for the organization while the sales and marketing department tries to increase the company’s customers base. Therefore, nobody can work alone in a company.
Finally, those psychologists supporting the quote conclude the argument by stating that the actions of one person significantly affect other people. This is because, if a person would live like an island, his or her actions would never affect the other people (Carvallo & Gabriel, 2006). According to Donne, the death of a person significantly affects other people (Donne & In Fallon, 1970). Another example is the current global warming issues. In this case, people are continuously burning fossil fuels resulting in the greenhouse effect. As a result, this leads to global warming. Therefore, the action of a person burning fossil fuels in America or China causes global warming affecting people living in Africa or other countries. Henceforth, it is true to say that ‘No Man is an Island.
On the other hand, other people argue that it is possible for a person to survive and live alone. Many people can affect a person decision, but it takes one person to make the decision on his or her own (Carvallo & Gabriel, 2006). In addition, people may want a person to perform an activity, but the person may not want to do so. This shows that if a person does not have the will he or she will not perform the duty (Carvallo & Gabriel, 2006). As a result, certain phrases like ‘It is Personal’ or ‘It is my Secret’ exist. Moreover, a quote states that ‘You can take a Donkey to the River, but you cannot Force it to Drink Water’ (Carvallo & Gabriel, 2006). Therefore, man can survive and live alone like an island.
In my opinion, based on the above argument, I agree with the statement that ‘No Man is an Island’. This is because, in order for a person to make a decision, he or she needs to have several opinions from the other people. Therefore, despite their own decision, individuals need other people to make the decision. In addition, it may take a person’s own will so as to perform a certain task, but whether he or she performs the task or not, would certainly affect other people. Moreover, in order for a person to live a successful and healthy life, he or she needs to work together with other people. Finally, the survival of a person depends on the other people. For this reason, I conquer with the statement by Donne ‘No Man is an Island’.
- Carvallo, M & Gabriel, S., (2006). No Man Is an Island: The Need to Belong and Dismissing Avoidant Attachment Style. Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 32, (5): 697-709.
- Donne, J., & In Fallon, K. (1970). No Man is an Island. Los Angeles: Stanyan Books.
- Griffins, A. J. F. (2002). Modern Genetics Analysis. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman and Company.
- Hawkley, L. C., Thisted, R. A. & Cacioppo, J. T., (2009). Loneliness Predicts Reduced Physical Activity: Cross-Sectional & Longitudinal Analyses. Health Psychology, 28 (3): 354-363.
- Mangel, M. A. R. C. (2007). New Views on Religion and Science. Bioscience, 57 (3) 273-277.
- Over, H. & Carpenter, M., (2009). Priming Third-Party Ostracism Increases Affiliative Imitation in Children. Developmental Science, 12, (3), 1-8.
- Raphael, R., (2012). A People's History of the American Revolution. New York, NY: Perseus Books Group.
- Zimmerer, T., Scarborough, N. M., & Wilson, D. (2008). Essentials of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management. UpperSaddleRiver, N.J: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
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