Educated Man By Henry Norman
John Henry Newman, the author of the essay entitled "The Educated Man"
begins his essay in a way that was very contradictory to his times. He opens his
essay boldly declaring that "A University is not a birthplace to poets or
immortal authors, of founders of schools, leaders of colonies, or conquerors of
nations." In essence, what he is saying is that the university is not the
birthplace of an educated man. This thought helps highlight his purpose for the
remainder of the essay, to provide a pure definition, untainted by society, of
what a true educated man is, as opposed to what he was considered in the

Victorian Period. I strongly agree with his essay, and its function of requiring
the paper-machier-and-chicken-wire educated man of the Victorian Age to become
molded of real substance. The essay continues to say " [A university] does not
promote a generation of Aristotles or Newtons, of Raphaels or Shakespeares...

Nor is it content on the other hand with forming the critic or experimentalist,
the economist or engineer". This statement helps defend Newman’s case. The
names mentioned were all men who in some way changed the world. Those of them
who did receive a University diploma do not owe their success or education to
the University they received it from. The task of the university was minimal,
the true thing that made them become pinnacles of education was their own love
for knowledge, and the traits they possessed as described throughout the rest of
the essay. Today, men such as Martin Luther, Albert Einstein, and Charlie

Chaplin can be added to the list. Albert Einstein, although considered on of the
most educated men ever, never even finished middle school. These accounts all
make a case for Newman in arguing that the general definition of and educated
man- a man who has received diploma and graduation from a college, as incorrect.

One trait of Newman’s educated man is that "he is at home with any
society" and "has common ground with every class." This idea is also
contradictory to the thought of the time- that an educated man relates only to
other educated men. I side with Newman on this issue also. A true educated man
knows he may learn more about the anatomy of a fish from a poor fisherman than a

Harvard grad. He knows he may gain knowledge from all walks of life, and does
not limit his knowledge imput to the ideas of just one class. Newman concludes
his essay by saying, "He has a gift which... without which good fortune is but
vulgar, and with which failure and disappointment have a charm." The fictional
character Jay Gatsby, of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was proof of this. He
was a man who had acquired good fortune without education, and it was indeed
vulgar, as opposed to the charming life of Van Gough, whose artwork, although
not rewarded with money during his lifetime, will forever be appreciated. This
view of Newman’s was also contradictory of a time who’s men would acquire go
to a university simply because they have wealth, and who would never see a day
of lack because the good fortune of inheritance. The good fortune then becomes
unappreciated and vulgar. In dispelling Society’s definition, Newman took it
upon himself to create a substitute; an unaffected spiritual definition pulled
from the same well that the definition of man in the constitution was pulled.

This essay is still valuable because the idea of an educated man is still a
social title rather than a task to complete. He is still stereotyped by what
they’ve done, rather than what he is. Perhaps the beginning of educated men
will remain where it has always begun, in the small cleft of a rock- such as

Stratford-upon-Avon or Urbino, Italy, where one learns to ask questions, in
pursuit of their answers stumble upon new world’s and ideas alike.