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Person Versus Society In Robinson Crusoe

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1840 words Published: 24th Apr 2017

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Defoe managed to be successfully literally immortal when he published the book Robinson Crusoe in 18th century. He dared to challenge the social, economic as well as political status quo of his time. By showing the unrealistic environment by which it was made in the absence of the society, he criticized the economic and social aspect of England’s community and also managed to relationship of the narrator with nature in a clear account of individual development that happened while stranded in loneliness. He becomes the most accepted person for whom every reader could emulate. Defoe therefore persuades us to have a look at the Remote Island and loneliness of human soul. By fixedly believing in the plot solidity with its earthiness, he has suppressed every other element to his perspective and roped the whole world into harmony.

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A very common theme that is usually portrayed in literature is the person versus the society. At the initial stages of Robinson Crusoe’s book, the narrator concentrates not only on the society but also his the view of his family in on how was bound not to succeed in life incase the expectations of his parents regarding him taking family business were not met. But, Defoe’s novel was a kind of autobiographical. What he wrote was closely related to the kind of life he led together with his enemies and friends he made in the interest of a merchant to a natural and dissenter (Sutherland 2). These kinds of similarities are seen across the novel. He says that his father gave him serious and excellent counsel against what he foresaw as his design. (Defoe 8-9). Just like Crusoe, Defoe also resisted his parents. However, in contrary to Crusoe, Defoe printed a lot of papers and essays that showed resistance to the government as well as the society in the same way as Huxley Aldous the author of the Brave New World did in England by showing the society languishing in social mess. It was according to this scripts that ultimately made Defoe be imprisoned after being charged with libel. In the life of Defoe, it was the ministry that his Dad wanted him to sue. However, Defoe Rather chose to be a tradesman. The extent of the relationship between Defoe and his parents according to the book was kind of not elaborate because his parents were symbolic not only representing the other parents but the society as well. In maintaining this kind of vague relationship, Defoe manages to make Crusoe’s abrupt exit much more realistic and, therefore, more humane. In this perspective, the reader thus is able to support the decision made by Crusoe even his social connections were shipwrecked by the increasing tide of individualism. Defoe, also, financially shipwrecked in the England’s economic success in 1962 in what he was to proceed and say shaped Crusoe.

Defoe uses the tale of a Shipwrecked soldier in Robinson Crusoe to criticize the society. Robinson’s story mainly is based on a sailor of a Scottish origin by the name Alexander Selkirk who lived by himself in the Juan Fernandez Island for more four years until he rescued (Sutherland 7). In the island perspective, Defoe managed to illustrate what was needed for the formation of unrealistic society. This impression however, separated from previous writers like Huxley whose vision is seen as a classic analysis of the modern utopian thinking and values. Crusoe takes some part of paradise and makes it an independent state. He is the King of Vale, square of the manor and the lord of the country. While many politicians argue on issues regarding the best way to come up with a perfect society, Defoe argues that the only way that can happen is in the presence of all things except people, creating a dilemma irony. This was a highly controversial topic in England at the time. Many of the people of certain religions and also citizens were persecuted on the basis of their political beliefs. However, Defoe believed that religious liberty as well as political liberty was the right that every member in the society deserved. Therefore, Defoe’s entry into the world of politics was may be necessary. Defoe was not content to be part of the impersonal realm for long because he had a dangerous perspective of applying his thoughts to persons and also parties (Sutherland 2).

In his separation from the rest of the world, Crusoe manages to come up with a utopian society that do not depend on survival only but also on him (Defoe 58). This economic system that resembles that of Marx proved that it is possible to come up with a utopian environment especially when only having one citizen only. There are other individuals or people to destroy or corrupt peace and harmony in which Crusoe is living with nature. He says that it was then that he started sensibly to feel the happiness of the life led there compared to the cursed and abominable life that he led in the past (Defoe 113). As he illustrates, Defoe tells us about the narrators lonely confinement, regardless of the circumstances that he saw as the God’s punishment for his sins at the in the past, has actually caused the narrator to be enlightened and also made him to know that his new life by far better compared to the one n England. He says that the natural state which Crusoe lived, individually on the island had a purity that cannot be copied. Even making Crusoe points out that he cared not incase he was not to remove from the position where he lived (Defoe 207) and he perfectly lived there, totally happy. He points out that if such a thing happens to take place then it can be formed a sublunary government (Defoe 217).

The next moment, Crusoe utilizes his moral reasoning lasts for a short period after he sees the footprint on the beach. He finds human bones littering everywhere in the beach. He hates the sight and forgets about the cannibal’s presence as God’s punishment and decides to end the feastings. He plans to kill some of the cannibals or all of them if possible. However he finds out that he has no power to be the judge and the executioner of savages at the same time. He reasons that the cannibals had performed what he believed were the crimes for a long period of time and had gone unpunished by God so that the sinner lacks any right to cause harm to them.

This may symbolize the new entry of Crusoe’s moral values, for the remainder of his detention on the island. By Friday he fulfills the unwritten urge to God. The words by which his first conversation was made “call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver, and you shall glorify me” played a role as an agreement between Him and God. Crusoe wanted a companion and God deliver Friday. Crusoe replied to this by glorifying the name of God to Friday; converting the day to Christianity (Defoe 56).

This “contract” is just a symbolic reflection. Crusoe never openly mentions the words of God that have been already mentioned as the reason behind Friday’s conversation nor does he show any contractual duty to God. Perhaps the fact that he does not want to mentioned the duty or contract shows that he indeed underwent a very strong conversation of religious nature on his detainment in the island (Defoe 29). Now, may be he sees glorifying God as a “matter of fact”. At any point in time, he converted Friday to Christianity and the conversation appears to have rested favorably with Him. Shortly after the conversion of Friday, Crusoe is home delivered by God after a period of thirty five years detention of Robinson in the island (Defoe 33).

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When he comes back home, Crusoe’s behavior testifies his religious ambivalences. It is clear and understandable that he is a changed man. But, he does not really base his change on God. Indeed, God appears to have become a secondary issue in his life. He asserts his belief in God, and would not be shaken from his belief. This is seen when he sells his plantation. He did so because of the fear of religious persecution. By then Brazil was in the middle of Inquisition by Spain with Crusoe having no intentions of changing his religion to Roman Catholic from protestant as a way of escaping the Inquisition. Here we can see his belief in God, but what is the meaning of this belief? (Defoe 67)

One may ask if Crusoe’s belief was a reflection of devotion and faith. However, it seems not to be so. When he goes to England, he avoids going to church to thank God for arriving safely. Instead he asks about his financial situation. His generous personality is seen when he arrives in England and supports the widow. The question that comes up from this scenario is the amount of generosity that he attributes to God. Actually, there is none. His “generous intentions” are clearly not religious. He considers kindness. His actions are not manipulated by the spiritual duties. In short, it appears that he has achieved a true, hidden belief in God by what he experiences in the island, however that the same belief is not necessary in his personal life after his detainment in the island.

Before his detention, Crusoe had no fear or belief in God. He finds God during his detainment in the island and in the process goes back to England believing in God. In this perspective, one can argue that Crusoe is changed (converted). Regardless of having no faith in God before his detention, he returns with a very strong belief that even makes him sell his plantation. The question then is “how far will the belief take Crusoe though? He sets aside parts of every day so as to pray to God. Back in England he barely prays. Eventually, the readers see him going back to his old personality. He takes no heed of the warnings of the old woman whose husband had died and goes out to look for his island. Even with his belief in God, he is ruled by impulse (Defoe 91). He keeps on changing his personality from that of wanting to be a convert and avoiding being one. Indeed many readers may not actually understand the position of his principles. It appears that the only thing we can suggest about him is that he was exposed to changes when he was detained in the island. The detention brought significant changes to his life and that is where the main things in his life begun to change. We can say that it was a major turning point in his life (Defoe 76).

In conclusion, it easy to say that Crusoe experienced just but a part of the conversion process. He is a convert in the perspective that he at least managed to get a belief in God while in detention; however this is the point where the change ends. The remaining faith that Crusoe showed when he was on the island was timely. In this case Crusoe is the icon of the “convenient convert”. His great devotion and great faith ended once his bad condition was settled. The combination of his belief, but little faith in God then denies him the chance to be a complete convert.


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