John Donne said, “No man is an island. To complete our journey we must recognize the importance of others."CONTEXT PIECE How would I structure this if I was to do a speech using the themes...

John Donne said, “No man is an island. To complete our journey we must recognize the importance of others."

How would I structure this if I was to do a speech using the themes from antigone and possibly drawing from another example of a leader eg. a prime minister or Gaddafi

Expert Answers
readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a very interesting question. If you are doing a speech based on John Donne's words and you wanted to use Antigone, the Greek tragedy, as an example, then there are several things you can say. Here is one suggestion.

First, you can use the whole play as an example of what happens when people stand alone and do not recognize the importance of others. There is inevitable alienation, death, and great sorrow. For example, Creon does not want to listen to anyone and he decrees that anyone who buries the body of Polynices should be put to death. By refusing to listen to others, he commits a grave crime. This action also forces Antigone to go against the words of Creon and seal her own death as she is determined to bury her brother. She, too, is alone. Finally, the two brother also show isolation, because they fight each other instead of support each other.

From this perspective, the whole Greek tragedy is about people acting like islands to their own demise.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think I would connect it to Gadhafi. But I did, I'd simply point out that while he ruled alone as a dictator for decades, he was unable to sustain his power when some of the Libyan people decided that they had enough. But in reality, Gadhafi was able to sustain his power for years with the support of bureaucrats who profited heavily from their positions, particularly from the sale of oil. He also derived much of his power from tribal affiliations, clan and kinship networks that enabled him to surround himself with friends and guaranteed a strong base of support for his regime. This is one of the reasons why Libya descended into civil war when the uprising took place- Gadhafi had so many supporters. And of course, it took Western military power to level the playing field to the point that the Libyan people were able to overthrow the man.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that Gadhafi would be a poor choice to use as an example of effective or even collective leadership.  While it is true that Gadhafi could not rule Libya by himself and depended upon his bureaucracy and also on tribal ties, leaders such as Gadhafi rarely value others as others.  They value them as useful cogs in a state machine whose parts can easily be replaced by new parts. Such "leaders" value the people around them merely as followers, not as individuals who are valuable in their own rights. A better choice of a leader who relied on the support of others might be Abraham Lincoln.  A new book on Lincoln -- Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin -- might be helpful to you. She argues that Lincoln was especially effective in working with people who were or had been his rivals.

belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We can apply the importance of working together to the American political landscape as well. All candidates for any position promise sweeping change and reform based solely on their influence and power, but in reality when they are elected they must compromise based on influence structures out of their control. Politicians who try to be dictatorial leaders tend to get nothing accomplished because their plans are blocked by legislature, lobbyists, and other representatives.

wshoe eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree, litteacher8, that leaders cannot lead on their own without the help of others.  Likewise, they do not lead an island of one, so they must be cognizant of how their actions affect the people.  Antigone chooses to bury her brother even though it endangers her life because she is acutely aware of the significance of her connection to her brother.  For her, it is a duty.  What leader exhibits that trait?  Who is willing to risk so much to help others? 

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Connecting your quote with someone like Gaddafi would be a rather extreme illustration, but it would certainly drive home the point that no one exists in isolation! You might consider building up to that extent of influence by one person by demonstrating the importance of other lesser officials in the lives of a country's citizens.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You might like to consider turning to another despot. Kim Il Jong and the way that he has pushed North Korea into isolation with disastrous impact would be another excellent modern day political figure you could turn to to establish the truth of Donne's words.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To me, this means leaders cannot lead on their own.  Each leader needs to be surrounded by a trusted group of advisors. As they say, it's lonely at the top.  Leaders have no one who is equal that they can confide in, so they need people they can trust.