I actually was pretty surprised I enjoyed the book, considering the fact that Robinson Crusoe was a book or concept I was not a fan of. Though, just like Crusoe was in Robinson Crusoe, Susan was a bit of a whiney narrator, I feel more inclined to sympathize with her as she has tried to make well with her misfortune and genuinely continues to persevere; whereas Robinson Crusoe did things on a whim only to whine and regret his actions later.
Now onto the actual tale. Foe is pretty good. In fact my favorite part of the book would be Susan Barton’s own retelling of the tale. A lot of it reminded me and harkened my thoughts back to The Tempest, a play by Shakespeare, which we discussed a while back in the course. The characters all exhibit traits of the central castaway characters of The Tempest. In particular I wanted to talk about language, ‘civilization’ and colonialism. The relationship of the three are somewhat similar to that of Prospero, Caliban and Ariel. And all exhibit characteristics of the three. The relationship between Prospero and Caliban is similar to that between Cruso and Friday. Despite Friday bearing no ill will of Cruso (or none that we can see apparent in Susan Barton’s tale, as she herself has talked about reliability and accuracy of recounting the tale told from Cruso and not Friday) and that he willfully help, the relationship between words and language that they use towards each other is one that can be compared to Prospero and Caliban. A major difference, and a theme they hold similar, is what should be taught of language and what effect it has. As Susan Barton feels it would be a privilege for Friday to learn the language, ‘civilizing’ him. Just as Prospero does for Caliban, who in turn mostly uses the language to curse and hate on Prospero, as he learns knows the island is rightfully his. Interestingly enough, Cruso feels that the only language he needs to know are the ones that are ‘useful’ to him. Which is very interesting to me. From which the comparison takes you to show, language is power. Had Friday widened his vocabulary, would he feel differently from Prospero, who they have worked and lived together. Since both of them are not from the island, would he feel more entitled to being king or a shared partner in crime? Do we in the English language have too many ‘useless’ words? Does language ‘civilize’ us? And different is that Caliban is vocal and voices his opinions and objections, where as Friday does not. IN addition to this you can see Susan somewhat stifling his voice when she blows up at him for playing the same tune, though that may be the only tune he knows and is how he can express himself. Which is strange as she wants him to know the wonders of being ‘civilized’ to talk and chat to, but not to really express himself? I don’t know. I am probably thinking off course and off topic.
This is getting a bit long. But I’ll leave the blog with one of my other thoughts of The Tempest and Foe. Susan Barton taking both Foe and Friday off the island. IN this way it can be said that Foe is much like Caliban, who just wants to live on the island as the reigning king. With not much need for words or legacies. In this way she is like Prospero who puts Friday under her wing, though he seemingly does not enjoy being away from the island, as Ariel longs to be free.
I don’t know how to juggle all my thoughts on this piece. But I will vouch for Jon. This is a good book, that is enjoyable, in my humble opinion.