Robinson Crusoe vs Pride and Prejudice Essay

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Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) is one of the most important novels of the eighteenth century, and of the English literature. It is certainly the first novel in the sense that it is the first fictional narrative in which the ordinary person’s activities are the centre of continuous literary attention. Before that, in the early eighteenth century, authors like Pope, Swift, Addison and Steele looked back to the Rome of Caesar Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD) as a golden age. That period is called the Augustan age. Literature was very different since it focused on mythology and epic heroes. However, to what extent can Robinson Crusoe be called the “first novel” and how is it different from all that have been done so far? Besides, what are the evolutions in the novel genre leading to Victorian novels, like Pride and Prejudice published almost one hundred years later (1813) in terms of style, themes and concerns? Augustan writers, before Daniel Defoe, were very protective of the status quo and their novels were philosophical and religious, based on a myth of the eternal fitness of things.

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In Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, just a few characters really appear in the plot. We can quote Robinson Crusoe, Friday, the English captain, the Portuguese Captain who rescued Crusoe when he escaped from Sallee, the Widow… There are obviously less characters than in Pride and Prejudice. Defoe also highlights individuals’ emotions such as fear, anger, despair, hope and relief. However, Robinson only values Friday as a devotedly and reliable servant, and does not consider him a friend. There is no room for love, since there are no female characters involved in the plot. We are portrayed a masculine world where women have nothing to do in it. On the contrary, Austen was interested in individual’s problems and especially in women’s concerns illustrated by interactions with others and mainly through the two protagonists: Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy Fitzwilliam. As the title of the novel suggests, the intrigue is structured around both concepts of “pride” and “prejudice. ” Elizabeth has to overcome her prejudice against Darcy to really appreciate his own personality and clearly see through him, beyond appearances and others’ opinions like her mother’s.

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That technique could have been influenced by the fact that Daniel Defoe was also a journalist. Concisely, Defoe’s plot is simpler with only one main plot arousing the reader’s imagination more than possible burning issues. To conclude, Robinson Crusoe is a novel in itself, since it includes all the characteristics: characters, plot, and narrative voice. However, the concerns and the themes in 1719 were not the same as in 1813 because Daniel Defoe and Jane Austen did not live in the same world and society at all. On the other hand, Austen perfected the techniques of dramatic-presentation, socially analyzed language, which were necessary to tackle the dilemma of individual moral choice and the relation between individuals and society in the bourgeois world. Later, in 1871, George Eliot’s Middlemarch appeared. This novel concerns issues of rank, reputation and marriage and it observes in a realistic way the characters, and the entire community from nobility to tradesmen. Realism was a key concept, very important since Austen’s times, and this was a deed which will go down in literature’s history.

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Uploaded time: May 8, 2022
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