Servantship in Robinson Crusoe and The Tempest Essay example

Servantship in Robinson Crusoe and The Tempest Essay example

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Literature has always been a source of exploring the world and the history of mankind. In Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, both authors use the concept of slavery, race and class. In Defoe’s story, the relationship between Crusoe and his slave, Friday, is one of mutual respect and trust. In the second selection by Shakespeare, the master-slave relationship is one that is characterized by force, violence and power. These two works share the common theme of servantship and slavery, which were largely based on differences in class and race. In both stories, differences in character, race and class have an influence on the servants and in their relationship with their master.
In the work by Defoe, Crusoe comes from a middle class family wanting to explore the world. His father wants him to pursue law but Crusoe goes against his father’s wishes and goes out to sea. Crusoe later colonizes an island, where he is destined to meet a man who would become his faithful servant and slave named Friday. When Friday first encounters Crusoe, Crusoe saves him from being eaten by other cannibals: “[…] and he came nearer and nearer, kneeling down every Ten or Twelve steps in token of acknowledgement for my saving his Life.” (Defoe, 223) Although they have a master-servant relationship, their bond is unique. Friday seems to be very grateful to Crusoe for saving his life and willingly becomes a servant to Crusoe. This will also affect their relationship later in the story. Crusoe stated that Friday “kneeled down to me, seeming to pray me to assist him, […] and he became my servant.” (Defoe, 218) Crusoe’s attitude towards Friday is warm and inviting “I smiled at him and looked pleasantly, a...


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...island. In contrast, the relationships between the characters in the two stories are different. Prospero’s servants seem to be very reluctant to continue serving him, while Crusoe’s slave is very submissive and never questions his position. The conclusion can be drawn that the radical changes that took place during the century of the colonizing experience and the living conditions has affected the concept of attitudes toward the classes and the tension between the masters and their servants.



Works Cited

Defoe, Daniel. The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. S.O. Beeton, 1862. Print.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Nelson Thornes, 1988. Print.
Jericho, Jeremy. William Shakespeare's “The Tempest.” Barron's Educational Series, 1986. Print.
Moore, John Robert. The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe. The Review of English Studies January 1945, 21(81): 52-56. Print.

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