Final Project: The Faults of Robinson Crusoe as a Moral Guide

For my final project I have decided to write a classic thesis driven paper. My thesis is that Robinson Crusoe is written as a moral guide that provides an optimistic account of human nature, however its faults are shown when compared to fictional and non-fictional accounts from the same era.

The essay will begin focusing on similarities between Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels, to establish that they can be compared fairly. Next, I will show how Crusoe’s tale is a testament to the endurance of the human spirit. This will then be compared to Gulliver’s travels, which provides a criticism of human morality and societal institutions. Finally, I will return to Robinson Crusoe to examine the topic of slavery in the novel. This will be compared to the accounts of Olaudah Equiano and Mary Prince, ultimately arguing that it is an inaccurate portrayal of the slave/master relationship.

I still have a good amount of research to do in the text to refine my thesis and supporting points, but any comments on it this far are sincerely appreciated.


3 thoughts on “Final Project: The Faults of Robinson Crusoe as a Moral Guide

  1. I really like your idea for this paper–especially that you are trying to disprove, rather than prove, the morality of Robinson Crusoe. I think your ideas for comparisons to other works should go well. One thing I think you need to be careful about is your section on the book being intended as a “testament to the endurance of the human spirit.” You should spend some time on that, but I do not think that you want to go on for multiple pages proving what you are then trying to disprove. Other than that, I really do not have many concerns here. Great job.

    • Thanks for your reply. My original plan was to show how, within the context of the novel, a system of morality was shown in action to be derived from the Bible and how that manifested within Robinson Crusoe. As I got thinking, however, a complete examination of this topic would involve a close look at slavery within the Bible and an attempt to show how it was invalid based upon real life accounts of slaves. While this is a topic of great interest to me, I think it is too narrow and off topic for this class.

      I still plan to look at the texts I have mentioned above, however my plan now is to examine class among these texts. Specifically, upper class and government, the “average citizen,” and the slave. Within Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels, both play the role of the average English citizen, and a slave. They both encounter the upper class, masters, and governmental systems. In the slave accounts, they go into great detail about their masters, the upper class.

      Again, I still have research to do, but a preliminary thesis would be that during the Georgian era, class mobility was not thought of the way it is today.

  2. NAKI8788, This is a big project you are undertaking! I think your efforts to focus on slavery and class will help you hone and focus your argument. I think this is a very smart strategy to going into your research process.
    One thing I have a question about how you intend to establish the relationship between RC and GT. These are two very distinct texts — one is a satire, one, in your own estimation, is composed as a ‘moral guide’. It would seem that the goals are quit distinct with each of these modes of the novel. How does this alter the ways that class and slavery are discussed? How will you tackle this distinction in the way the texts handle the issue.
    You also mention that RC is an inaccurate representation of the slave/master relationship when compared to Equiano and Prince’s texts. I’d be interested to see you expand on what you see as inaccurate. Further, do you think there is a way that the issue of authorship might play a role here? By this I mean that Crusoe was composed by a white European male, where was the slave narratives were composed or dictated by people of color, formerly enslaved by Anglo slavers. What role might this play in your assessment of the relationships between Crusoe and Xury/Friday?

    I look forward to seeing your work; don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss this project further.

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