No Man Is An Island Meaning Essay Writing

In the days following the British vote to leave the European Union, some hear the death bells tolling for the continent of Europe.

English poet John Donne, writing in the 17th century, famously wrote that “no man is an island,” comparing people to countries, and arguing for the interconnectedness of all people with God. The #nomanisanisland hashtag is resonating today with Brits and people around the world showing solidarity, despite the fact that country has voted to cut itself free.

Donne’s “Meditation 17” is one of a series of essays he wrote when he was seriously ill in the winter of 1623, and has since been popularly remembered for one excerpt:

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.

In his meditation on death, Donne writes that all beings are one with God. The rest of the essay, when read in the context of Brexit, is just as poignant as the famous passage. Donne compares suffering to gold, arguing that we can never have enough of our neighbors’ pain: “No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it.” In other words: No one suffers alone, and being aware of another’s pain only makes us stronger and more able to live.

The phrase “No man is an island (unto himself)” has percolated into popular parlance, and the suggestive thought of man’s interconnectedness overruling the dictum of his individuality (or even insularity) is hardly a new thought for us. But in the Elizabethan age when John Donne had composed the meditation “No Man Is An Island”, the poem is structured in a peculiar fashion such that the resultant effect on reading it is not merely a realization of the universal humanity Donne is hinting at. Instead, it is the lifecycle of each mortal being, being propelled towards his inevitable death, and even God’s schemes which undermine that imagined community of men. Rather than being dismissed as a utopia, the meditation stresses the urgency of how man thrives in the company of his fellow human beings, and how he is but an insignificant component of the entire scheme, equipped with his own intrinsic set of functionalities and dispensations in the world-order.

Any individual human being, contrary to any antagonistic opinion he might be entitled to, cannot extricate himself from the rest of the living, breathing cosmic continuum and pretend to be complete of its own positionality, of the integrity of its stance. It is implausible for one man to grow and thrive in society without the love and affection of his fellow-citizens. Likening the isolated and insular man to an island, Donne insists how the individual is but a component of the larger mass of humanity, the “continent”, and can only exist in conjunction with the world outside.

The use of the island conceit here is effective in tracing the loci of human lives as bound with empty, endless seas (symbolic of trials, tribulations, perils, frustrations and such) as well as in proximity to other islands. The man is born to live out his life in the companion of other men, exposing his perceptions and insights to the adversities of an unfamiliar world, which he is an integral part of, and which also appears within the microcosm of the individual. The myth of self-sufficiency which has long been propagated for the “western man” as a master of nature as well as of the self is demolished at the very onset of the meditation.

Land, when eroded by the sea, simultaneously diminishes the size of the landmass in itself. The European continent, which has been alluded to here, also incidentally is nothing more than a vast island adrift in the breast of tremendous oceanic bodies and tectonic plates, yet which is also constituted by its variegated and innumerable populace. The loss of the individual eventually amounts to a diminution of the collective; the macrocosm is never entirely insulated from the ongoings of the microcosmic. The promontory jutting out of the sea is as exposed to the vagaries and scruples of destruction by the forces of the sea and the wind, as much as man is susceptible to the bereavement of what he holds near and dear. The poet might be condemning the superfluousness of the materialistic life in stating that the loss of a friend’s manor (or the

The promontory jutting out of the sea is as exposed to the vagaries and scruples of destruction by the forces of the sea and the wind, as much as man is susceptible to the bereavement of what he holds near and dear. The poet might be condemning the superfluousness of the materialistic life in stating that the loss of a friend’s manor (or the subjects own) might be a devastating loss of personal property for the owner concerned, but that equivalent importance must be attached by each one of us onto every singular person who forms a part of the world we too construct and inhabit.

The promontory jutting out of the sea is as exposed to the vagaries and scruples of destruction by the forces of the sea and the wind, as much as man is susceptible to the bereavement of what he holds near and dear. The poet might be condemning the superfluousness of the materialistic life in stating that the loss of a friend’s manor (or the subjects own) might be a devastating loss of personal property for the owner concerned, but that equivalent importance must be attached by each one of us onto every singular person who forms a part of the world we too construct and inhabit.

The promontory jutting out of the sea is as exposed to the vagaries and scruples of destruction by the forces of the sea and the wind, as much as man is susceptible to the bereavement of what he holds near and dear. The poet might be condemning the superfluousness of the materialistic life in stating that the loss of a friend’s manor (or the subjects own) might be a devastating loss of personal property for the owner concerned, but that equivalent importance must be attached by each one of us onto every singular person who forms a part of the world we too construct and inhabit.

Under these circumstances, any death of any one man cannot, for the narrator, be held as being circumscribed within the immediate family. The death of any one man sends out a ripple onto the world, which is diminished by his “deletion”, and the poet sees that as a tragedy for the human race. The “involvement” with mankind that Donne projects onto the narratorial voice is his and it is a politically charged commitment to humanity that is being propounded here. The personal is political and vice versa and boundaries can only sustain differences so far.

The death of a man does not signal the arrestation of that chapter in the book if life at all is to be perceived as a book penned down by the authoriality of the Divine Providence, but rather prepares the ground for the conversional transcendence of that chapter in his life. The bell which tolls in silent remembrance of the deceased is there to remind all of us that it is our loss. The collective “thee” refers to the unified race of humanity across all divisions and prescriptions of race, gender and so on, and resonates with the chiming of the bells.

The wholly isolated individual derides or is forgetful of the fact of his socially encoded existence, and of the many principles and ideas flowing in him, which are but regurgitated reproductions of ideas which have originated in the community of his brethren. There are a conspicuous exchange and transaction amongst all men, an organic connectedness which vibrates with life and vitality.

The eternal flux of human emotions can be imagined as a drama unfolding amidst the colossal sea underlying the scattered islands of human achievements. The individual, when attempting to discern his unique place in the world, cannot set up more lines of division than there already prevails.  Cognizance of this oneness, of the commonality of what we all share in our identities and behaviors, can help combat the woes inflicted by the reality of mortality. Only death is capable of truly extricating one person from another, but even then, the deceased are never forgotten, and the saga continues to grow.

With no man existing unto himself, the suffering caused by singular deaths is shared by many, and by empathizing with the other’s grievance, the individual can also be awakened into the greater truth of his oneness. There is also a responsibility that accompanies the act of claiming emotional ties to other persons, and human beings can learn from the sufferings and experiences of their fellow brethren to better prepare themselves for their own deaths, which as was surely the belief in contemporary circulation, a transliteral migration to another world.

0 Replies to “No Man Is An Island Meaning Essay Writing”

Lascia un Commento

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *