Paired Texts > No Man Is An Island
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.
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?
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?
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.
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" 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.”
In "More Facebook Friends, Fewer Real Ones, Says Cornell Study," Matthew Brashears 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?
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?
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?
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?
Nikki Giovanni's poem "Rosa Parks" recounts some of the important contributions that people have made to the Civil Rights Movement.Pair “No Man is an Island” with “Rosa Parks” and ask students to discuss how the poems’ themes connect. How might the theme of Donne’s poem play a role in what Giovanni attempts to demonstrate in her poem? How might you describe how the Portman Porters were, to borrow the term from Donne’s poem “a part of the main”? How might you argue that, again, to borrow from Donne’s poem, the “bell tolled” for Rosa Parks?
In "He—y, Come on Ou—t!" a town discovers a mysterious hole that seems to be the perfect solution to their trash problems.Pair “No Man is an Island” with “He—y, Come on Ou—t!” and ask students to consider what it means to think that you are an island. How do the people in “He—y, Come on Ou—t!” reveal that they think they are an island? Explain what Donne means when he says, “any man’s death diminishes me.” Do the characters in “He—y, Come on Ou—t!” understand this idea? How do these texts suggest people should treat the world around them? How should people view their place in the world?
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?
In "McDonald's: It's the glue that holds communities together," Chris Arnade describes how low-income Americans use McDonald's as a space to find connection. Pair “No Man is an Island” with “McDonald's: It's the glue that holds communities together” and ask students to discuss the theme of community. How does the speaker reflect on the interconnectedness of people in “No Man is an Island”? How do McDonald’s customers seek out connection with other people in “McDonald's: It's the glue that holds communities together”? What lessons can readers learn about community from these two different texts?