Eighteenth Century / Robinson Crusoe

Crusoe: more a mythic hero than believable character

I find Robinso Crusoe somewhat inexplicable, but I will do my best to encapsulate such a character in 300 words. He is very matter-of-fact in tone when one would least expect it and for coming across as such a noble, resourceful character one has to wonder about his odd obsession with power and subjugation. I have heard that these various mixes in traits are supposed to resemble the plight of the modern man. But does anyone else just feel that it almost makes the character of Crusoe even less believable? For example, when the book first begins Crusoe is telling of his father’s plea for him to stay at home, which includes one line on the death of his brother in such a matter-of-fact tone that it almost seems like he is looking beyond this speech jovially towards his journey. He claims his father’s tears affected him during this speech, but does anyone believe him? He claims that he considered staying at home to help his family but his inner wanderlust (somewhat akin to Steinbeck’s claim in Travels with Charlie) took over shortly after and the journey was a necessity. Basically what I am saying/asking is does anyone find Crusoe a believable character without temporarily suspending disbelief?

-CJ

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2 thoughts on “Crusoe: more a mythic hero than believable character

  1. I felt exactly the same way! Crusoe talks about how he felt so torn between wanderlust and family loyalty that he wavered for a year before actually setting off. But he had already mentioned that he had refused for years to take an apprenticeship to learn a trade, against his father’s wishes. And after leaving, he never sends word to his family that he is even alive (although he does send word to a widow to hand over his money).

    When he washes ashore and realizes that everyone else is dead, Crusoe’s matter-of-fact demeanor never falters. He consoles himself by thinking of his own comfort. And when he realizes that they all could have survived, had they stayed on the ship, his only thought is that he was left unnecessarily “left entirely destitute of all comfort and company” (28). Their lives mattered only insofar as they were useful to him.

    But I don’t feel like I need to suspend disbelief to find Crusoe believable. I find him coherent as a self-righteous and greedy man who has very little self-awareness. I don’t know if he was written this way purposefully, if he is reflecting the unconscious traits of William DeFoe, or if it’s just a mistake.

  2. There are a few reasons why I do not believe that Crusoe is a very honest or noble character as he played out to be in the beginning. First off Crusoe was warned twice by important characters to not go to the sea. He claims he was saddened to go against his wishes but then travels the sea several more times until he becomes abandoned on a island alone. Secondly, Crusoe so easily sold his friend/slave to the Portuguese captain without any remorse for the fact that he once was a slave and that he did build a friendship. I think maybe Crusoe likes to think he does have good intentions but it is hard to know if he really does.

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