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Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Woo-hoo! Our first novel in arts one, we can actually call this a book and be right! That was a little exciting. I like novels, though I’ll admit it was a little frustrating reading with the deadline, being much more rushed than I usually would be with a novel, and the language took some getting used to, though I eventually got into the flow of it. And it didn’t really read very much like a novel, if that makes any sense. The lack of chapters and the narrative writing made me feel more like I was reading an autobiography of a man who really lived. Especially with the journal being thrown in there. I would almost call it a bit of a mesh between Columbus (the four voyages) and The Odyssey. The Odyssey because it displays so prominently the conflict of man vs. nature, which Odysseus has to face when he sails. And both have the element of religion being the cause for their suffering, though in very different ways. The god Crusoe believes in is not a physical thing that he interacts with, but he believes that his god causes his suffering, and similarly Zeus causes much of Odysseus’ troubles. There’s also the quest for home which takes much longer than expected that they share. With The Four Voyages, Crusoe and Columbus both have themes of colonialism and, again, voyaging across the sea, as well as the journal-y feel, though Columbus was writing letters which served a fairly specific purpose.

I was very interested in Crusoe as a character, as the situation of being isolated and alone on an island is very intriguing. But as a person, being in his head sometimes (reading his thoughts) was very frustrating. He makes his own kingdom and names slaves much the same way Prospero does. I’m wondering if I should interpret this as a comment by the part of Dafoe on human nature. Do we all wish in some sense to be rulers, when put in a situation where it’s possible? Do we naturally define ourselves as kings when presented with a plot of land devoid of others who we’d define as people? Also the fact that Crusoe relies so heavily to religion, and believes he’s being punished by god. Is Dafoe inferring we turn to religion in desperation? Or, was Dafoe religious himself, and trying to teach a lesson? Since it’s an older book it’s likely that the author was religious I suppose.

I’ll give it to Crusoe that I was impressed with some of his accomplishments of agriculture, as well as the things he makes and builds. In the back of my mind I was wondering how long I would last, trapped alone on an island. I wouldn’t stay sane too long I suspect, without anyone to talk to. Friday saves Crusoe in a very big way. Would he have lasted much longer without a friend? 


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