Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels and the Painting Gin Lane by William Hogarth
1056 Words5 Pages
How are the central ideas of the Enlightenment era reflected in the Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s travel and the painting Gin Lane by William Hogarth? I will additionally focus more on the Robinson Crusoe, because it could be argued that Robinson Crusoe is based on René Descartes works, the father of modern philosophy. In order to answer the thesis we need to understand the central ideas in the Enlightenment
The Enlightenment era introduced a new way of thinking, on the contrary to earlier, where God was the centre of the universe and deep-rooted traditions ruled; now the ideas suggested that the understanding of reality should be founded on reason and rational research. Ideals of freedom and human dignity had many followers, and was a driving force behind the American and French Revolutions. Notably, the ideas from the Enlightenment greatly affected literature and art.
One of the main ideas of the Enlightenment literary era was the idea of thinking, as I earlier mentioned. As Rene Descartes noted in the 1700s, “I think, therefore I am.” Rene Descartes was a French philosopher and mathematician, presumably one of the greatest modern philosophers. Descartes managed to define a mechanic, but none-theological understanding of physiological processes in his treatise Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences.
The main relevant ideas of the treatise were the four rules of thinking. The first rule, in his own words was “never to accept anything for true which I did not clearly know to be such.” This sentence remains one of the most influential quotes in the foundation of modern science. The second rule was to divide each of difficulties under examination into as many parts as po...
... middle of paper ...
...establish a new society. Religion received increasingly less value, and rational thinking and ideas of freedom and equality was given top priority.
While Robinson Crusoe follows the patterns in the Descartes’ treatise, it can be seen as a practical version of the content, applied modern philosophy, showing what can be achieved by thinking reasonably. Whereas Gulliver’s Travels and Gin Lane focuses on the problems which would occur due to lack of rational and reasonable thinking. What would occur if we never had the Enlightenment era?
Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. 1719. Ed. Evan R. Davis. Peterborough: Broadview, 2010. Print.
Access to English: Literature (2008)