The exploration of the self in Robinson Crusoe Essay


...Start of the The exploration of the self in Robinson Crusoe Essay...

‘In all the time of my solitary life, I never felt so earnest, so strong a desire after the society of my fellow-creatures, or so deep a regret at the want of it.’ (Robinson Crusoe). Use this quotation as a starting point for the exploration of the self in Robinson CrusoeSelf is broadly defined as the essential qualities that make a person distinct from all others. In Defoe’s words the word, “governs the whole world; the present Race of Men all come into it. ’tis the foundation of every prospect in life, the beginning and end of our Actions.” It is the essence of man. Crusoe undergoes a journey of self discovery whilst on the island. He learns things about himself that, quite probably, only years of isolation could have brought out in him. Defoe’s novel was the first of a long pattern of story writing in which the hero undergoes a massive devlopment and maturation. Preliminary ignorance allows Crusoe to acquire wisdom whereby in Richetti’s words, “the self can gradually discover outside itself that which it carries within.”Defoe’s exploration of the self lies in Crusoe’s journey of self-discovery and his accomplishments in isolation vs. the inevitable loneliness that his life of solitude entails.


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It is a key moment in the novel and it symbolizes Crusoe’s conflicted feelings about the need for human companionship. Crusoe’s desire after ‘the society of his fellow-creatures’ is thrown aside as the evidence of a man on his island sends him into a panic.. His immediate negative and fearful attitude towards the possibility of human company makes the reader doubt he could ever be re-inserted into society again, but this was not Defoe’s intention. His representation of the self shows a need for society and company, even if the thought of it after being coming so acustomed to solitariness is a scary one. Another key motif in the novel in an exploration of the self is Crusoe’s mixed feelings of disdain and desire for money,O drug!” said I aloud, “what art thou good for? Thou art not worth to me, no, not the taking off of the ground; one of those knives is worth all this heap; I have no manner of use for thee; e’en remain where thou art and go to the bottom as a creature whose life is not worth saving. However, upon second thoughts, I took it awayThis demonstrates his nostalgia for human society. He appears the epitomy of the practical man on the island and admits to himself the money is worthless to him, and yet he keeps it. It has only a social worth, and thus reminds us that Crusoe cannot get away from the fact he is a social creature still.


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Seidel, Michael. Robinson Crusoe : island myths and the novel. Boston : Twayne, c1991. “Robinson Crusoe as a myth. An Essay in Criticism.” . 1951SecondaryFlorman, Ben and Henriksen, John. SparkNote on Robinson Crusoe. 30 Nov. 2007 http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/crusoe/ .


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