Eighteenth Century / Robinson Crusoe

The Positive Influence of Religion on Robinson Crusoe’s Life

One of the most important themes in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe is religion and the way it transforms Crusoe’s conception of himself, his values, and the roles of comestibles concerning bodily necessity. Somewhat predictably, Crusoe only begins to consider God’s role in his life after he is confronted by the Devil in a dream who tells him, “‘Seeing all these Things have not brought thee to Repentance, now thou shalt die’” (Defoe 75). In other words, the fear of dying caused him to reflect on “a certain Stupidity of Soul, without Desire of Good, or Conscience of Evil,” meaning the way he had been ignorantly living without any consideration of a higher being would eventually cause him to die and his soul would not be saved (76). Furthermore, we can recognize this change as predictable since his values before the dream revolved around greed and the obsession with the sea that caused him to ignore the advice and wishes of his father, which foreshadowed miserable fate.  

Crusoe realizes that he only asked for God’s help when he was afraid but then soon forgot about the “Goodness of the Hand” since he did not acknowledge the blessings thus could not thank God for them (77). The religious turning point for Crusoe occurred when he re-found the Bible that he had stowed in his cave and read, “‘He is exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give Repentance, and to give Remission’” because not only did he begin to pray, he also began to hope that God would hear him (83). At this point, although Crusoe still has unhappy thoughts about his condition on the Island of Despair, he slowly begins to alter his fate because of his better attitude and change in values (60). Surprisingly, the way Crusoe attributes all of his good fortune to God culminates in creating a Religious Exercise on the first anniversary of his landing where he “kept this Day as a Solemn Fast . . . prostrating my self on the Ground with the most serious Humiliation” (88-9). That is, he was so devoted to God that he momentarily chose to ignore his bodily necessity for comestibles, which can be interpreted as the greatest sacrifice he could give since hunger was a constant fear before he began farming and breeding goats (88-9, 90-1, 123-25).

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One thought on “The Positive Influence of Religion on Robinson Crusoe’s Life

  1. Im curious to see if Crusoe is going to stay religious in the future or if he will turn back to his selfish ways. I can’t help but notice how it still seems like he is only becoming “religious” for selfish reasons. For example, so that he can hope that God will feel putty on him and send him help.

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