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Robinson Repentance

It is clear to see the way food plays a dominant role in Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. However, the theme that stuck out to me the most revolves around the idea of repentance. At the beginning of the novel, Crusoe finds himself aboard a ship in turbulent, stormy waters. As the situation grows increasingly hopeless, Crusoe prays, begging God for deliverance from the storm. If he is allowed to make it safely through, Crusoe promises he would return home to his father “like a true repenting prodigal” (10).  However, it becomes clear that although he did in fact survive the storm, his pride prevented him from returning home even after another life-threatening incident.

When he finally finds himself stranded on the isolated island, Crusoe again prays empty promises begging for deliverance. During the throws of illness, he dreams of a dark, fiery apparition. The figure tells him that because he has not yet repented, he is condemned to die (87). This dream sends Crusoe into a period of realization, where he recognizes that despite his good fortune to have survived numerous grim situations, his appreciation stopped at fleeting thankfulness, and he never truly repented despite his prayers and promises to do so. It seems as if after this dream, Crusoe uses religion and God as a means to be strong enough to carry on despite his grim situation. His repentance consists of recognizing his wrongful actions toward his father, who wanted only the best for his son. However, it is clear that although Crusoe’s attitude is improved once he turns to God for help, his situation does not really seem to improve otherwise.

Because of this, I have begun to wonder if Crusoe will continue on this path of repentance and righteousness, or will begin to feel forsaken and turn his back on God as a result.

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3 thoughts on “Robinson Repentance

  1. In relation to his repenting, I find it interesting that Robinson is intent on submitting himself to the Will of God. In his repenting, he seemed to learn that all the problems he encountered were the result of his straying from the Will of God, what he later refers to as “secret hints” that reveal to him what to do (148). He realizes that he led himself astray and that he will not be led astray as long as he abides those hints. You pose an interesting question about whether he will turn his back on God. If one of those hints leads him astray, then he may have a reason to feel forsaken.

  2. I like the idea of people repenting in the face of death because that tendency for humans to do this is still very prevalent today. Everyone could think about at least one thing they would do or change about their life if they were facing death, but in the event that they excape death do they really change? I think that too often they would view it just as a close call, and go back to living the way they were living. I think the same could be said in terms of other things aside from death, like drug use for example. If a cop came up to a person taking drugs, I guarantee they will make false promises like “this is the last time I will ever do this” or “this will never happen again”. I am hoping that Crusoe is not going to do this.

  3. Nicholas I really like the comparison you made you made to the cops and drug user. I couldn’t help but grow frustrated with the way Crusoe is constantly praying for help and promising to return home to his father as long as God brings him safely through whatever trial he is facing. Needless to say, however, he never actually fulfills these promises, and it is clear to see that that serves as a main driving factor as to why he feels the need to repent. Unfortunately it takes the most extreme of disasters before Crusoe realizes he should have remained true to the promises he made in the face of death. Fortunately though, when he realizes this he uses it as a learning experience rather than a reason to feel sorry for himself. He begins to acknowledge things he originally took for granted (the readily available crops on his island, for example) and give thanks. Hopefully this good attitude remains throughout the duration of his isolation, but as Apeiron1 mentioned, if he finds these “hints” from God do in fact lead him astray, he may begin to feel forsaken.

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