Heidi's Greatness Essay

Greatness Essay
Heidi Chun
American Lit
March 5th, 2008
“But be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness,
and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Malvolio speaks these words in the play,
“Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare. According to this quote, great people can be
categorized into three groups.
First, there are those who were born great. This can have two general meanings.
This is a person who is born great by blood, meaning that they were born in a royal
family or some sort of a ruling family. In this case, greatness is expected by their family
and their nation. An example of this kind of person would a prince or a princess of a
nation like Japan or England. Princes and princesses, like Prince Williams of England or
Princess Aiko from Japan, have royal blood which places them in a high position within
their societies. Therefore, when the king falls ill people have high expectations for the
new king.
Also, there are those who were born with greatness: innate talent and
intelligence. This kind of person is someone we generally call a genius. An example
would be the title character from the movie “August Rush (2007)”. This film is about
the rise of August from an orphan to a successful musician at the young age of 12. What
is so special about this boy is that he detects melody and rhythm where others only hear
random sounds and noises. August’s parents were both accomplished musicians, and so
August gained his musical gift from them. With his amazing skill, in the course of the
story, he attends a music college at a very young age, and in the end he becomes the
conductor of a large orchestra that plays music he himself composes. People who are
born great don’t have to try very hard to reach “greatness”, it is already in their blood or
just naturally part of their abilities.
However, for other people it is quite different. There are many people in the
world who don’t have royal blood or are naturally talented and gifted. Does that mean
they can’t be great? No. This kind of person can achieve greatness although it takes a lot
more effort, diligence, and perseverance. A person who was not born great usually starts
from unremarkable beginnings. Many times this person is physically or mentally
disabled, poor, or just not successful in school. To achieve greatness, to reach their
ultimate goal, they try, practice, and pour all their effort into what they are focusing on.
A person who fits this description is Thomas Edison. Now he is well known for
his many inventions, including the light bulb. However, in his early days he wasn’t as
successful as he seemed. In fact, he dropped out of school at an early age and held jobs.
However, he was inevitably fired from each one. His life was shaping up to be a total
failure. In later years, when he was working at a telegraph company, different machines
caught his attention. Thus, he began to work hard to improve those machines and invent
new things. Although it was a harsh and rocky road for Edison, in the end he did
achieve greatness because many things used today come from his creativity.
So, there are people who are born great, and people who aren’t born with
greatness but have to achieve it. This leaves one last type of person with greatness that
William Shakespeare’s quote states; people who have greatness thrust upon them. This
person rarely has any choice, something occurs without notice and they are suddenly
put in a position to do something that is later viewed as fantastic or great. Therefore, this
person is unexpectedly “assigned” greatness.
An example from history would be a man named Sundar Singh. One day, he
was hiking on the Himalayas with his guide. As they were hiking by, Sundar found a
stranger lying in the snow. Sundar’s guide urged him to move on because the sun was
setting. However, Sundar decided to help the poor hiker. Thus, the frustrated guide left
Sundar and the unconscious hiker and moved on to get to the village. Meanwhile
Sundar piggybacked the hiker to get him to the nearest village. When he was nearing the
village, he saw another body on the ground. It was the guide that left earlier. However,
the guide did not survive.
On the other hand, Sundar and the hiker both survived because thanks to the
hiker on Sundar’s back Sundar could keep making body heat (because he was
exercising so much) and that body heat warmed up the hiker. Sundar met this stranger
who needed his help out of nowhere. And when he saved this man, he became a hero,
someone who showed greatness not because he was born with greatness, nor because he
wanted to be great but because he was unexpectedly put into that situation.
Great people from history or literature can be categorized into these three
different groups by how their greatness came about. People who are born great have the
easiest job because they don’t have to work to achieve it; they just have to work to
maintain the greatness. People who achieve greatness have the hard job of reaching
greatness, but once they reach this height they are reluctant to surrender it because it
cost them so much effort and energy. And last, people who have greatness thrust upon
them may not always be the happiest people, and may not often be remembered, but
they are certainly brave and heroic. Thus, by whatever circumstances a person becomes
great, one thing is for sure; greatness doesn’t just drop out of the sky, people have to
prove they are worthy to receive it.