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We cannot look, however imperfectly, upon a great man, without gaining something by him.

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He is the living light-fountain, which it is good and pleasant to be near. The light which enlightens, which has enlightened the darkness of the world; and this not as a kindled lamp only, but rather as a natural luminary shining by the gift of Heaven; a flowing light-fountain, as I say, of native original insight, of manhood and heroic nobleness;--in whose radiance all souls feel that it is well with them. On any terms whatsoever, you will not grudge to wander in such neighborhood for a while. These Six classes of Heroes, chosen out of widely distant countries and epochs, and in mere external figure differing altogether, ought, if we look faithfully at them, to illustrate several things for us.

Great Man Theory

Could we see them well, we should get some glimpses into the very marrow of the world's history. How happy, could I but, in any measure, in such times as these, make manifest to you the meanings of Heroism; the divine relation for I may well call it such which in all times unites a Great Man to other men; and thus, as it were, not exhaust my subject, but so much as break ground on it!

At all events, I must make the attempt The Hero as Divinity, the Hero as Prophet, are productions of old ages; not to be repeated in the new. They presuppose a certain rudeness of conception, which the progress of mere scientific knowledge puts an end to. There needs to be, as it were, a world vacant, or almost vacant of scientific forms, if men in their loving wonder are to fancy their fellow-man either a god or one speaking with the voice of a god. Divinity and Prophet are past. We are now to see our Hero in the less ambitious, but also less questionable, character of Poet; a character which does not pass.


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The Poet is a heroic figure belonging to all ages; whom all ages possess, when once he is produced, whom the newest age as the oldest may produce;--and will produce, always when Nature pleases. Let Nature send a Hero-soul; in no age is it other than possible that he may be shaped into a Poet. Hero, Prophet, Poet,--many different names, in different times, and places, do we give to Great Men; according to varieties we note in them, according to the sphere in which they have displayed themselves!

We might give many more names, on this same principle.


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The Poet who could merely sit on a chair, and compose stanzas, would never make a stanza worth much. He could not sing the Heroic warrior, unless he himself were at least a Heroic warrior too. I fancy there is in him the Politician, the Thinker, Legislator, Philosopher;--in one or the other degree, he could have been, he is all these.

True, there are aptitudes of Nature too.

Have you heard of the catastrophic men theory of history? Step forward Boris Johnson...

Nature does not make all great men, more than all other men, in the self-same mould. But it is as with common men in the learning of trades. You take any man, as yet a vague capability of a man, who could be any kind of craftsman; and make him into a smith, a carpenter, a mason: he is then and thenceforth that and nothing else. And if, as Addison complains, you sometimes see a street-porter, staggering under his load on spindle-shanks, and near at hand a tailor with the frame of a Samson handling a bit of cloth and small Whitechapel needle,--it cannot be considered that aptitude of Nature alone has been consulted here either!

It is an inexplicably complex controversial-calculation between the world and him! He will read the world and its laws; the world with its laws will be there to be read.

notes for great man theory

This is worth taking thought of. Sceptical Dilettantism, the curse of these ages, a curse which will not last forever, does indeed in this the highest province of human things, as in all provinces, make sad work; and our reverence for great men, all crippled, blinded, paralytic as it is, comes out in poor plight, hardly recognizable. Men worship the shows of great men; the most disbelieve that there is any reality of great men to worship. The dreariest, fatalest faith; believing which, one would literally despair of human things.

great man theory

Nevertheless look, for example, at Napoleon! High Duchesses, and ostlers of inns, gather round the Scottish rustic, Burns;--a strange feeling dwelling in each that they never heard a man like this; that, on the whole, this is the man! In the secret heart of these people it still dimly reveals itself, though there is no accredited way of uttering it at present, that this rustic, with his black brows and flashing sun-eyes, and strange words moving laughter and tears, is of a dignity far beyond all others, incommensurable with all others.

Do not we feel it so? Ah me, that a man be self-subsistent, original, true, or what we call it, is surely the farthest in the world from indisposing him to reverence and believe other men's truth!

It only disposes, necessitates and invincibly compels him to disbelieve other men's dead formulas, hearsays and untruths. A man embraces truth with his eyes open, and because his eyes are open: does he need to shut them before he can love his Teacher of truth?

every night throughout the world hundreds of people dream about this face

He alone can love, with a right gratitude and genuine loyalty of soul, the Hero-Teacher who has delivered him out of darkness into light. He was one among the significant social commentators of this time and has presented many lectures during his lifetime.

Theories of Leadership: The Great Man Theory

Great Man Theory was born from the impact of great heroes and men, who were kings or personalities with wisdom and charisma, evolved in the 19th century when great men were considered as role models to the society. History of the world lies on the biographies of great men Carlyle, The goal of humanity lies in its highest positions Bishop Herbert Spencer in critics the great man theory as they are mere products of social environment and a society should make men before a man remakes it. Great men in histories are remembered forever as history recalls through generations.

This theory is praised and criticized at the same time. Moreover, men and environment should shape each other reciprocally, however, the significance of great men are imaginary Tolstoy Every individual influence his own society or other with his positive or negative ideas or actions could be recognized in history Leonid Great men theory of leadership states that ambitions and clear visions of the effective leaders, politicians, executives, professionalists, sports personalities who often seem to possess an impression, stands apart from the crowd are created as great men.

The great men are not made but they are born and great men can arise when there is a need as even today great men are born. Men with inbuilt leadership trait, intelligence, power, charm, authority, persuasiveness, support, high degree of intuition and judgement, special endowment, oddness, courage, with good characteristics stands throughout the history, yet the great men idea was considered as myth as they would emerge magically at the time of need like Jesus, Churchill, Buddha, Muhammad, etc.