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Friday, May 7, 2010

Great Men Versus Unnecessary Men

Are “great men” really that important? Before this question can be answered, noticed that the adjective “great men” needs to be defined first. Often, this phrase (great men) is viewed by the majority as men of achievements, power, money, fame or a combination of the mentioned factors. This means that Napoleon the Great and Einstein are both great men as they “were” both great powerful and full of achievements during their existence. It also makes Bill Gates and Joanne Kathleen Rowling great man and woman for their power, achievements, wealth and fame, among others.
Great Men

It might be true that the above mentioned personalities were at the right place at the right time but the majority of their efforts still came from their side and contribution. As one great man of war and history and as a fabulous author, this paper focuses on Bonaparte and Rowling as persons who did not simply put themselves in the right place at the right time to get what they are worth for. Bonaparte was even considered as "the most splendid genius that has appeared on earth." (Andrews, 1939, p. 3: Acton, 1887, p.603) It should be noted that Napoleon the Great did not sit to achieve his title. From his childhood, he seemed to have been an ambitious boy already, as he said it himself.

"I was self-willed and obstinate, nothing awed me, nothing disconcerted me. I was quarrelsome, exasperating; I feared no one. I gave a blow here and a scratch there. Every one was afraid of me. My brother Joseph was the one with whom I had the most to do; he was beaten, bitten, scolded; I complained that he did not get over it soon enough." (Fournier, 1903, p. 5: Napoleon Bonaparte)

Thus, with a little bit of ambition, perseverance and hard-work, Napoleon could not have been as Great as he was and he is (still).

On the other hand, Harry Potter’s author is another person to be looked up at. Her being a woman did not stop her from succeeding or attaining the status of being one of "the most successful novelist in the world" (Stephen, 1999, p. 24). Rowling made a hard work to succeed and did not wait fame to strike her. She had her own failures and frustrations as a regular person, too far from being great, yet, she never stopped to be inspired to continue her Harry Potter novels.

Americans love rags-to-riches myths, of course. Rowling is not even Scottish, but a middle-class Chipping Sodbury girl who read French at Exeter University before working for Amnesty International; after her marriage to a Portuguese journalist ended she stayed with her sister in Edinburgh, went on social security and started writing the first Potter book. To the average middle-class American, hearing how somebody goes from "welfare" to overnight millions is vindication of the notion that hard work is all that is required for success… (Stephen, 1999, p. 24)

Clearly, and again, it is not only being at the right place at the right time to succeed and be “great”. A big deal of effort and perseverance as well as discipline and unmarred motivation must be present. Thus, great men are important, not because of the fact that they are great but because of the inspiration they give to common individuals on how they have achieved their greatness.

Andrews, G. G. (1939). Napoleon in Review. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Fournier, A. (1903). Napoleon the First: A Biography (E. G. Bourne, Ed.) (Corwin, M. B. & Bissell, A. D., Trans.). New York: Henry Holt.

Stephen, A. (1999, November 1). Dame Enid Wows the Yanks. New Statesman, 128, 24.

Today we mark much of our technological advances by the inventors. Think of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Would computing be different without them or, as Jared Diamond supposes, were they just in the right place at the right time? Are “great men” really not that important? Why or why not. Choose 1 or 2 great men (or women) to use as examples to explain your answer.

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