by John Donne
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
I'm Nobody! Who Are You?
- Emily Dickinson
Dickinson, a well-known introvert, cherished isolation. In this poem, she calls public life “dreary” and takes pride in maintaining a private identity.Pair “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?” with “No Man is an Island” and ask students to compare the poems’ themes. Which is greater: isolation or connectedness?
- Franz Kafka
In the novella The Metamorphosis, a traveling salesman is transformed into an insect.Pair “No Man Is an Island” with "The Metamorphosis" and ask students to discuss the theme of isolation in each text. What happens when one lets isolation take over, when one loses this connection to others?
The Wives of the Dead
- Nathaniel Hawthorne
In this short story, two women receive shocking visits in the night as they grieve over the deaths of their husbands.Pair “No Man is an Island” with “The Wives of the Dead” and ask students to discuss the themes of death in both pieces. How, according to these texts, can the shared experience of death/grief create friendship or comradery?
More Facebook Friends, Fewer Real Ones, Says Cornell Study
- ABC News
- November 8, 2011
Matthew Brashears, a Cornell sociologist, conducted a study that suggested social networks may not be fulfilling our deeper social needs.Pair “More Facebook Friends, Fewer Real Ones, Says Cornell Study” with “No Man is an Island” and ask students to consider the ways Donne’s poem connects to our social media-dominated modern world. Are we more “involved in mankind” now, or less?
The Tempest 4.1.156-8
- Gary Soto
Gary Soto begins this poem with a line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest to delve into the harsh reality of death and how it is dealt with.Pair these two poems and have students compare the different ways that they suggest both the dying and the ones close to the dying deal with death.
The Lady of Shalott
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
In this popular Lord Tennyson poem, the Lady of Shalott leaves her magic tower to pursue Sir Lancelot, but is followed by a tragic curse.Pair these two texts about islands and isolation. Compare and contrast the way these two texts use the image or idea of an island.
Things That Show and Things That Don't
- BirdBrain Science
“Things That Show and Things That Don’t” is an informational text that explains how dominant and recessive alleles of people’s genes determine what they look like.Pair “Things That Show and Things That Don’t” with “No Man is an Island” and ask students to discuss how our genes connect us to others, and whether this prevents us from being “islands.”
Excerpt from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
- James Joyce
In this excerpt from James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a young boy feels left out at his new school.Pair “Excerpt from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” with “No Man is an Island” and ask students to discuss whether or not Stephen would agree with John Donne’s poem. Do students think that Stephen feels connected with others? Why or why not? How might this poem help Stephen feel less alone?
“Three Types of Friendship” — Excerpt from The Nicomachean Ethics
- Roughly 340 BCE
In the philosophical text “‘Three Types of Friendship’ — Excerpt from The Nicomachean Ethics,” Aristotle describes three types of friendship and their differences.Pair “No Man is an Island” with “‘Three Types of Friendship’ — Excerpt from The Nicomachean Ethics” and ask students to discuss the value of friendship. What benefits does friendship provide people? Do students think that Aristotle would agree with John Donne, that there is a sense of camaraderie among all humans?
DNA Tells Tale of How Cats Conquered the World
- Tina Hesman Saey
In the informational text, “DNA Tells Tale of How Cats Conquered the World,” Tina Hessman Saey discusses a study that sheds light on when and where domesticated cats spread.Pair “No Man Is An Island” with “DNA Tells Tale of How Cats Conquered the World” and ask students to discuss how humanity has persevered by being connected to others. Is this also true of their connection to animals and nature? How can the poem be expanded to include the world beyond humankind?