Robinson Crusoe as Ancient Hero

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Eva Brann writes in her article “The Unexpurgated Robinson Crusoe” that Robinson Crusoe is the archetype, a model of a new man, soon to be predominant breed – a modern man. Crusoe is a rational man, with extraordinary capabilities, a lone individual and an individual that makes a culture of one. He is every man in one: a businessman, laborer, and accountant. He is the ultimate individualist. He does everything by himself, for himself. Nevertheless, what can be said about Robinson Crusoe’s modernity if while reading the novel he continued reminding me to an ancient Greek hero Jason? In this paper, I will explore a proposal that Robinson Crusoe is an adaptation of an ancient hero into a modern one. To accomplish that, I will first compare and contrast noticeable commonalities of these two heroes, then I will review the dispute between scholars regarding a superiority of classical authors over contemporary writers, and finally, I will review Bruno Latour’s essay We were never been modern to understand what it means to be modern according to a contemporary author.
As soon as I started reading Daniel Defoe’s novel The Life and Strange and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner I noticed something familiar. The story looked so similar to a story about Jason and his voyages with the Argonauts; however there was something different, there was only one Argonaut in Defoe’s novel, only Robinson Crusoe. To explore my proposal that the Robinson Crusoe is an adaptation of the ancient hero to the modern one I will first explain what is understood by the term the ancient hero, then I will present short summaries of the Defoe’s novel and the Greek myth about Jason, and finally, I will compare similarities and differences of t...

... middle of paper ..., while he was “only” a good man when he was obedient.
It seems to me that both of these characters are heroes by the virtue of their agency, but this is not simple agency. They are agents because both of them are participating in something that Karen Barad calls “intra-action.” Intra-action does not separate human from non human aspect of world or understanding of the world. It does not put culture and nature into conflict, or try to submits one to another, but “the nature of observed phenomena – hero/character changes with corresponding changes in the apparatus – nature/society,“ as our heroes changed in two observing period, they remained to be heroes, only that Robinson Crusoe is now called a character instead of a hero, but the essence is the same.

Works Cited

Brann, Eva. “The Unexpurgated Robinson Crusoe.” American Dialectic. 1.1 (2011):90-111