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Journey of Robinson Crusoe

Essay by   •  July 25, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  2,831 Words (12 Pages)  •  2,116 Views

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Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe describes a young man that rebels against his parent's wishes and security in order to seek adventure. Despite his father's advice of staying home to continue to live contentedly in the middle class of life, and the warnings about what would happen to him if he left, Crusoe decides to flee and seek out his own desires. He embarks on an expedition to sea at the age of 19. Crusoe is a restless, yet lazy and selfish man that wants to get through life vicariously. Disconnected from himself and any true sense of religion he finds himself alone and stranded on an island for 28 years. As the novel unfolds, he seems to become enlightened and appreciative and demonstrates sympathy a number of times, but the reality is that Crusoe has trouble submitting to any authority higher than him. Because he is selfish, Crusoe sees himself as the only authority. On the island Robinson Crusoe faces many trials that he overcomes and is given multiple opportunities to change, but never does. Motivated by avarice, Crusoe departs in as an irresponsible, egotistic, and careless man and, after his escape from the island, returns as the same man he was when he first left.

In the beginning of the novel we see an immature young man that hasn't accomplished anything in life. Crusoe's father gives a speech to Crusoe and explains to him what is best for him. His father wanted him to remain in the middle stage of life because "temperance, moderation, quietness, health, society, all agreeable diversions, and all desirable pleasures were the blessings attending the middle station of life" (Defoe 5). Crusoe's reaction was unsettling, he did not want to remain safe and still. He did not know what to say, nor how to rebuttal his father because he, too, knew that it was a "fool's journey" to leave. Knowing that in the middle stage of life "men went silently and smoothly through the world," Crusoe's restlessness provoked him to seek his own desires (Defoe 5). Crusoe's father explained to him what happened to his brothers and their misfortunes. Crusoe is a prideful person and he did not want to come and go in the world unnoticed. Crusoe's dream is to go adventure and sail the seas, but according to his father, going abroad were for men of "aspiring, superior fortunes" in order to "make themselves famous in undertakings of a nature out of the common road" (Defoe 5). Crusoe knew what was best for him and after hearing his father say that "God would not bless him" if he left, he decides not to leave. Being restless and careless as he is, "a few days wore it off" (Defoe 6) and he decides to leave. Crusoe cannot just remain silent, he cannot stay still, and he wants to seek out his desires and wants to make a mark in life. Since all "Defoe's heroes pursue money" (Watt 39), we can start to understand Crusoe's desires and why he is deciding to embark on a "fool's journey."

When Crusoe departs, he is not prepared mentally, psychically, or spiritually. Moments later after the ship is at sea, the water rose and winds began to blow excessively. This began to crumble Crusoe both inside and out. He was "sick in body and terrified in mind" (Defoe 7). He began to realize what his father explained to him and began to pray. At this point Crusoe feels that, "like a true repenting Prodigal," he should go home (Defoe 8). Although Crusoe feels this way at first, he does not leave. Instead he sleeps it out, and the next morning uses alcohol to "complete a victory over conscience" (Defoe 9). Crusoe is an ignoring hypocrite and is only running away from his problems and his own self. Another storm hit the ship, and again we see a helpless Crusoe as he lays "still in my cabin" (Defoe 10). This time the ship sinks and the sailors were rescued and returned back to the harbor. Crusoe is left to decide on what to do next. Meanwhile, the captain of the ship turns to Crusoe and states "perhaps this is all befallen on us on your account, like Jonah in the ship of Tarshish" (Defoe 12). Crusoe thinks about returning home and finally decides not to, only because he is ashamed. He feels that upon return he "should be laughed at among the neighbors" (Defoe 13) and does not want to confront the embarrassment of seeing his parents and everyone else. He is an immature man that cannot take responsibility. Again, Crusoe departs, this time to Africa.

On this voyage, Robinson Crusoe is captured by pirates and is enslaved for two years. He manages to escape along with a little boy named Xury. Crusoe appears to share a bond with Xury since they were both slaves of the same master. Because of the bond they had previously shared and because of the loyalty that Xury has expressed to Crusoe, it appears that Crusoe is fond to the boy. Irresponsibility and the desire for economic gain trumps this bond as Crusoe sells Xury in exchange for money offered to him by a Portuguese captain. Crusoe breaks his promise of making Xury a "great man" (Defoe 26). This shows that Crusoe never intended to keep his promise. For Crusoe, his meaning of being a "great man" is not applied to anyone else but himself. He treats everyone else as inferior to him. From this, we can understand that Crusoe does not care for anyone and "treats them all in terms of economic value" (Watt 44). After their separation, Crusoe admits it was "wrong in parting with my boy Xury" (Defoe 27), but only because he "wanted help" (Defoe 27) with the labor for his plantation in Brazil.

After landing in Brazil, and after seeing how the other planters "grew rich suddenly" (Defoe 27), Crusoe decides to start his own plantation. After about three years, his plantation is successful enough for him to live a comfortable life. Crusoe even confesses "had I continued in the station I was now in, I had room for all the happy things to have yet befallen me" (Defoe 29). Even though, he is in the stage of life, once again, that would grant him the most happiness, he seems to desire more wealth and this causes him to make the decision of going to sea in search of slaves in order to grow his plantation even more. Crusoe realizes this as he explains that he is leaving because of the "desire of rising faster than the nature of the thing admitted" (Defoe 29). Although he is successful now, Robinson Crusoe is not satisfied in life. He desires and wants more and he wants to be able to prove his father wrong. It almost seems like he wants be able to gloat about his leaving to his father and become better than his father. Crusoe realizes that staying at home would've brought him the same state he is now, but instead of going home or remaining in the state he is, he

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