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Tom Hanks as the new Crusoe?

The ending of the novel was exciting and it proved to be a great transformation of Crusoe religiously, morally, and personally. The ending journey and character transformation reminded me of the Tom Hanks movie Castaway, not only in the sense of some type of “isolation on a deserted island” way but in a “life-changing journey” type of way.

Tom Hanks starts out as a businessman who’s life is fast-paced, he has a girlfriend who he proposes to before he leaves for a business trip in the car, which is seemingly not too romantic. He is always bustling around, all-about business, semi-overweight and seems unhappy. His plane crashes and he become stranded on an island for a while and has to step out of his comfort zone, exactly like Crusoe. He talks to himself, makes due of materials he finds from the plane, learns how to hunt, realizes his longing pain and aguish for his lover back home (of whom thinks he’s dead and marries another man). Tom Hanks innovatively builds a raft and leaves the island, setting out fearlessly and hopelessly putting it all on the line. He is saved and taken home. There he realizes the love of his life has moved on, he does not want to sleep on the bed, and despises the food that our society takes advantage of. The isolation completely “saves” the character Tom Hanks was before the island and makes him a stronger more thankful man. The island does not leave his memory and he looks at it like a refuge, a transition point in his life.

Robinson Crusoe changes along the same terms just in different ways. HE finds his faith in God because he was left with no other choice but to lean on him in times of complete hardship. Due to the fact that Crusoe took on Friday as a “servant” who became his companion, shows the colonialism theme in the novel, where this friendly acceptance (slave to man) was rare. Friday is portrayed as inferior to Crusoe which was relevant to the time period. When Crusoe returns to his deceased family and the widow he left his money with he is viewed as more gracious. He lets his benefactor who owes him money off the hook a little bit, and gives away a lot of his money. When comparing the old Crusoe to the newer one, that never would have happened. The island changed his perspective on life and his idea of ‘home’, the center of his existence. The reason he returned there in the first place shows his identification and newly found love and respect for such a disastrous experience that at one point in time had become his reality.

Hanks and Crusoe learn valuable lessons and find treasured self-discovery during a period of isolation. Why does it always take a tragedy or a drastic loss, to awaken the soul or change a person? Isolation from what we consider to be reality can help us define who we really are.

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One thought on “Tom Hanks as the new Crusoe?

  1. Lauren,
    You have hit upon an entire genre of works here with this observation! Robinson Crusoe, I’m certain, can lay some claim to the origin point of _Castaway_. The popularity of _RC_ was so extensive that the notion of the “Robinsonade” (or broadly written, as survivalist fiction) has continued to captivate the imaginations of audiences. Take for instance, the massively popular television show _Lost_ which very notably tips its hat to its eighteenth century for bearers by featuring characters like John Locke (notable C18 philosopher of whom we have already spoken a great deal), Jack Sheppard (a notorious C18 robber and criminal), Jeremy Bentham (a C18 philosopher and the man credited with the architectural design of the panopticon), etc, etc.

    Clearly the eighteenth century provided some platform for considering this question you raise at the end of your post: ” Why does it always take a tragedy or a drastic loss, to awaken the soul or change a person? Isolation from what we consider to be reality can help us define who we really are”. Might we have any initial thoughts to consider why this might be the case?

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