Personal Response to Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe

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Defoe's novel, Robinson Crusoe relates one man's spiritual journey in search of self and his goal of setting things right and making amends. Finding the self may take a lifetime. It took twenty-eight years on the island for Robinson Crusoe to discover more about himself, and, of course, he had to wait that number of years before he could make up for past mistakes. However, we do not have an ocean preventing us from making amends, and if only readers were to open themselves to this book, for all its clumsiness, flat style and Eurocentricity, it can, by illustrating one man's life, illuminate ours.

To begin opening ourselves we must begin to identify with Crusoe. This is not as easy as it might seem. For one thing, in my case, he is a man, and I am a woman. He lived two hundred years ago so had very different values. He was white. I am not. It is, however, necessary to push these things aside and go to the text. Look especially at instances when Crusoe is not the most politically correct of heros- -when he seems most at odds with our thinking. Consider Crusoe's treatment of Friday. Friday has no name of his own, and he, the "savage," automatically becomes a servant. Here, Crusoe is condescending and racist. Yet, when I look at my own actions towards others, I have to admit that many times they fall short of being good or just. Let us be honest, don't we all shun or dislike those not like ourselves in color, age, social standing, or religion, at some time or other?

One other important flaw--some might not call it a flaw at all--is Crusoe's bond of utility rather than bond of mutual respect that forms the basis of his friendships. Crusoe is a man that, early in the novel, is a friend when the other person c...

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...eight years on a desert island. We learn that what really keeps us down is our human self absorption and that we have to rise above this terrible selfishness. We learn that finding the self is acknowledging our frailty and working, in spite of it, towards making our spiritual side strong. If I realize what is important in life, I know I have learnt from Crusoe's experiences and will never have to cry "Oh had there been but one ....

"The one book that teaches all that books can teach"


"I shall pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore I can do, or any kindness I can show to any human being let me do it now, let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."

Stephen Grellet

Works Cited

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. Ed. Thomas Keymer. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print. Oxford World's Classics.
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