The Effect of God on Robinson Crusoe

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It has been observed that when placed in harsh or unusual conditions, people tend to look to spiritual support to help them overcome adversity. In Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe not only depicts the struggle of a man abandoned on a deserted island, but also depicts Crusoe's repentance for past disobedience against his father and humanity as well as his acceptance of religion into his life. Crusoe's religious beliefs, however, do not remain consistent; in fact, he later uses religion as a justification for murder and other immoral acts. Crusoe accepts religion into his life, repenting for his sins throughout the novel, however his faith is not genuine, only becoming strong when he experiences misfortunes.

Crusoe's religious beliefs are first encountered after he disobeys his father and sets sail in search of adventure and wealth. During the trip, the ship encounters a horrendous storm. During this storm, Crusoe believes he was "justly overtaken by the judgment for [his] wicked in leaving [his] Father's house" (Defoe 5). He then continued to pray for deliverance, promising to return to his father and never set sail again, if God saved him from the storm. However, the next day, once the storm ended and the sea was calm, Crusoe drank much alcohol and soon "drowned his repentance ... [and] forgot the vows and promises that [he] made in distress" (Defoe 7). Immediately the reader perceives the strength of Crusoe's religious faith. Crusoe only completely gives into religion when it is convenient or necessary for his safety.

The reader next encounters Crusoe's religious beliefs when his ship, once again founders in a storm, this time the entire crew perishes but Crusoe. Immediately upon reaching the island, Crusoe looks up to heav...

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...ling the sailors that were against him, allowing only the sailors who pledge allegiance to him to live free. Furthermore, the perpetrators of the mutiny are brought in front of Crusoe for judgment, much like Crusoe prostrated himself in front of God for forgiveness.

Robinson Crusoe is a prime example of how many people only embrace religion during times of distress. Crusoe, during times of misfortune prays to God for deliverance, but as soon everything is well or he has reason, doubts God's existence. This is shown through Crusoe's journal writings in which he turns to religion when in need, and seems to totally disregard religion all together when all is well. His faith on the island was convenient. Crusoe, in this case, personifies the meaning of a convenient convert. His great faith and devotion to God expire once his problematic situation is alleviated.