Robinson Crusoe: Master of the Island

Master of the Island.  That is what Robinson Crusoe became at the end of his adventure.  In a sense, Dafoe has created in Crusoe, the perfect colonist.  I’ve read Robinson Crusoe once (abridged version) and kind of enjoyed it, though it tended to bore me at points.  Though I have to say that I found the first novel written in the English language rather tedious to read at times, I still have to say that it is a masterpiece adventure, with some interesting themes.

Crusoe, is a very complex character with a personality and a set of skills to match.  Its how he survives on the island.  He has a unique set of abilities to match his own unique flaws.  He does tend to be impulsive, building his house on the first fortifiable ground as opposed to the fertile plain and the incident with the canoe shows that nature.  Yet, Crusoe can at times, be very resourceful, able to find a way to make clay pots, grow his own food, tame his own animals.  These make him able to master the nature and environment on his island.  Crusoe can also be very paranoid, but this aids him, for when he faces the savages, he is ready and waiting.   That’s not all about Crusoe, but that’s what springs out to me.

The other thing that I noticed about Robinson Crusoe was it’s similarity to The Tempests, something without a doubt most of us have noticed.  One of the main things was the master-servant relationship.  Like Prospero, Robinson Crusoe has servants, nature and man.  Unlike Prospero, Crusoe seems to manage his servants better.  If Caliban represents the island’s natives, let the animals represent Crusoe’s Caliban.  Prospero doesn’t manage Caliban very well, letting him turn against him.  Crusoe tames the island’s animals under him and in the end, rules over them.  Like Prospero though, Crusoe has his own form of magic, that aids him in securing a faithful servant.  If Prospero had magic to free Ariel, Crusoe had firearms.  But the similarities end there, in my opinion Crusoe and Friday share a much better relationship than Prospero and Ariel.   Ariel constantly tries to rebel against Prospero, but Friday doesn’t.  Crusoe rewards Friday, (his form of reward), by converting him, teaching him some of his ‘magic’ (the use of firearms) and in return, is kept company.  There are times, when Crusoe has to assert his authority, but it’s quite clear he cares deeply for his servant.  If anything, I’d describe Crusoe and Friday’s relationship as a perfect master-servant relationship, Dafoe’s ideal.

The novel is scattered with contextual references and is heavily influenced by british views.  The idea of the master-servant relationship, the european mastering the savage and the savage island.  The book is primarily, a boy’s or man’s adventure.  There are no important developed female characters, which all do to reflect the times.  It does not detract on the novel, but it makes one wonder, that if the first novel contained so much views influenced by English government, how much of the first novel has trickled into our modern novels?



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