In Robinson Crusoe, what attributes/abilities/behaviors are displayed by Crusoe that suggest the class into which he was born feels itself destined to rise to/achieve greatness?
1 Answer | Add Yours
A prevailing attitude of manifest destiny certainly characterizes Robinson Crusoe ideas after he follows the lure of seafaring men; namely, to venture forth onto new, exciting horizons where he can "rise by enterprise" and conquer. After he sells Xury, thinking it is all right since Xury agrees to be sold, Crusoe begins to build his sugar empire. However, when a quicker and more lucrative venture presents itself, Crusoe reacts; he seizes the idea of making a fortune in the slave trade. Reflecting upon his impulse, Crusoe analyzes his actions:
As I had once done thus in my breaking away from my parents, so I could not be content now, but I must go and leave the happy view I had of being a rich and thriving man in my new plantation, only to pursue a rash and immoderate desire of rising faster that the nature of the thing admitted....But I, that was born to be my own destroyer, could no more resist the offer....
After Crusoe finds himself shipwrecked on a deserted island, he adopts the Puritan work ethic of his England and sets about creating a world of his own. Certainly, he exhibits thoughts of his class when he writes,
...to think that this was all my own, that I was king and lord of all this country indefeasibly, and had a right and possession; and, if I could convey it, I might have it in inheritance as completely as any lord of a manor in England.
Jeremy W. Hubbell writes that Crusoe exploits the fears of animals in order to conquer nature:
He employs terror in the same way the English crown does; he hangs three dead crows as if they were "notorious thieves" and, consequently, he never sees another bird in that part of the island.
Once Friday becomes his man, Robinson Crusoe is happier, but he still exhibits attitudes of English superiority. For instance, when Friday tries to show Crusoe how to burn out the boat, Crusoe insists that they use their hatchets. His refusal to accept Friday as an equal reflects the English attitude of superiority; moreover, Crusoe becomes a patriarch, like the Puritans in his country, to his man Friday, overriding Friday's wishes. He demands that Friday imitate him develop his state of mind through laborious exercises, for this is colonialism.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes