Eighteenth Century / Robinson Crusoe

Crusoe: The Self interested Man

Through the book I get the feeling that Crusoe is somewhat of a lost soul. He describes his family as that of a typical middle-class but his actions through this part of the story seemed to point to the mindset of someone of either someone the social elite, or someone hopeless. With this description in mind and reading about him at first I immediately drew a connection to the character Ishmael in Moby Dick. He is contemplative, self-critical, and seemingly good natured in his voice and speech, but the difference between this and the reality of his character becomes apparent through his actions. In this description of being a member of higher class, we see can examples of this in his description of major events such losing his friends, leaving his family, and the deaths of individuals are almost re guarded as mere footnotes to a larger vision. to. Even when he decides to sell Xury, he laments once or twice for but a moment. Those events and the way he deals with things like shipwrecks and constantly ignoring his gut instinct make it seem like he is a strong believer in fate, and his actions happen as they are supposed to For quite a while Crusoe gets mixed up in the minset his father warned against, the uninhibited pursuit of wealth. He is quite skill in obtaining wealth as he says “But as abus’d Prosperity is oftentimes made the very Means of our greatest Adversity, so was it with me. I went on the next Year with great Success in my Plantation: I raised fifty great Rolls of Tobacco on my own Ground, more than I had disposed of for Necessaries”. Even Xury up to that point was the most loyal person to Crusoe, but was sold for wealth. In one of his self reflective moments he really seems to describe in full detail the ideas of himself I just spoke on stating
“and I was still to be the wilful Agent of all my
own Miseries sensibly describ’d the middle Station of Life to be full of; but other
things attended me, and I was still to be the wilful Agent of all my
own Miseries; and particularly to encrease my Fault and double the
Reflections upon my self, which in my future Sorrows I should have
leisure to make; all these Miscarriages were procured by my apparent
obstinate adhering to my foolish inclination of wandring abroad
and pursuing that Inclination, in contradiction to the clearest Views
of doing my self good in a fair and plain pursuit” (34)

After being shipwrecked and losing his entire crew and being on the island he seems to have undergone a dramatic change of character. So far we see has been able to live a simpler life more like his father described but I feel there is much in store in the future for him. If one thing can be said of Crusoe it is that he is living life on his terms.

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4 thoughts on “Crusoe: The Self interested Man

  1. Hi Brian – I like what you have to say about Xury because I also thought Crusoe sold him too quickly based on the affection felt on their voyage from slavery to Brasil. In regards to selling Xury, at first Crusoe felt “very loath to sell the poor Boy’s Liberty,” and he told the Portuguese Captain his concern, but when the Captain promised, “that he would give the Boy an Obligation to set him free in ten Years, if he turn’d Christian,” Crusoe agreed to sell (30). To me, this was ironic since Crusoe was so ambivalent about religion, meaning I wonder why he suddenly felt okay about selling Xury based on the conversion condition. Furthermore, Crusoe had firsthand recent experience about the dismal life of a slave, yet he sold Xury without much thought. On the other hand, I think it’s important to consider that “upon [the Captain’s promise] Xury [said] he was willing to go to him,” because it makes me think Xury’s opinion might have mattered to Crusoe (30). What do you think?

    • Amy, I think your observation regarding Crusoe’s “fair weather” faith as expressed through Xury is a valuable insight. I am really looking forward to hearing more about your thoughts in this regard.

      I wonder how you respond to Crusoe’s demand of conversion? Do we see Crusoe as exploiting faith her to alleviate his conscience? Is this a way to further some mode of “English expansion” by converting the “heathen”?

    • I agree and when he briefly lamented over the sell I felt as though he didn’t completely feel that way it was almost as if he was just displaying this emotion because that is what would be expected. I don’t know if Xury’s opinion would truly affect Crusoe. I think he did kind of lead us to believe that though through the example in the text you gave. I think it is the “exploitation of faith to alleviate his conscience.” In agreement with Amy, I was confused as to how this was okay for him though considering his own ambivalence towards religion at the beginning.

  2. Pingback: RE: “Crusoe: The Self interested Man” « History and Literature of Georgian England

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