Robinson Crusoe: Ideology

It has been said that every piece of art/media ever made somehow has an ideological standpoint. If it doesn’t change your way of thinking, it could well be reinforcing certain aspects of a dominant social ideology. While reading Robinson Crusoe, that idea is what I thought about the most. After being bludgeoned over the head with the ideas of “proper” religion, “proper” expansion, and “proper” gathering of material goods, I am quite sure that, whether intentionally or not, this book is reinforcing the primary first world ideology of the time, that of the good industrious god fearing capitalist.

One of the most obvious and tiresome ideas was that of God and Providence. All of Rob’s problems apparently come from the fact that he is too forward thinking for God, and does not do what he is supposed to do, which is essentially to sit at home and do nothing. God does not approve of an adventurous mind. This is interesting and sort of goes against my theory in a way, because England was just starting to become active on the whole colonialism scene, and you’d think that the books written in that time would reflect that, instead of providing a sort of warning against it. However, I think the book goes on to deal with this by making Rob happiest in one place doing nothing. Funnily enough this place that he has built starts to look a lot like the home of an industrious, god fearing capitalist. Only once he has made his home as similar to what as “regular” as he can, and only once he starts praying and beginning to really acknowledge the glory of God, only then does he start to be really happy again.

Concerning progress and the amassing of material goods: even though Rob eschews money for it’s lack of value, there is still a tremendous focus on obtaining and hoarding things, as well as building and expanding. In fact, the way Mr. Crusoe goes about his business surviving is a very capitalist method, and I do believe that if this story were written by a Brazilian anti capitalist or something, there would not have been such a focus on making the perfect homestead and then expanding across the island and becoming lord and ruler through industry. This book is written in such a way to promote the idea of “build lot’s of stuff and you will succeed.”  I wouldn’t necessarily say that is good or bad, especially since reading it in this day and age we are already deeply indoctrinated with capitalist- consumerist ideas, he he.  But it is something to notice, in any case.



1 thought on “Robinson Crusoe: Ideology

  1. I like your reference to first world ideology. This idea of only one religion, one society, one everything, and lying in the perfect European form definitely comes through in the work. I’m not sure, however, if I agree with your views on Providence. I’m not so sure if God disparaged against all those who desired adventure, but only Crusoe in this instant. It appeared more that Crusoe should not be fated to a sea-faring life than everyone else. Perhaps, as well, establishing this religious relationship serves not only as a means of having the society he is used to, but more on a spiritual level? During this period, the large majority of individuals were Christian, and Crusoe’s relationship appeared to be more on that deep, spiritual acknowledgment of the Lord’s power and grace, than of merely attempting to find a similar world in a foreign land. All in all, nice post!

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