Home > book reviews, prose > book review: Robinson Crusoe

book review: Robinson Crusoe

I thought I might share some thoughts I had on a book I first read a few years ago: Robinson Crusoe. I guess this is not so much a book review as it is my assessment of the character of Robin himself.

Within the bounds of the era, I ended up not liking Robin very much. He, without really even thinking about it, always strives for power over nature and other people. Some examples: He clips the wings of birds to keep them around, for no particular reason. He despised being a slave, and escaped at his first chance, yet he wants slaves for his plantation and considers it merely a business opportunity to go to Africa to get some. When Friday throws himself at Robin’s feet in gratitude, Robin takes him as a slave instead of picking him up and allowing/teaching him to be his own man – an independent friend, not a servile stooge. Indeed, Crusoe doesn’t even think twice about taking Friday with him when leaving Friday’s father and country behind forever; and when in civilization, Friday is not even mentioned at all. With this precedent, I’m not sure how great a compliment it would be to be someone’s “Man/Gal Friday”. Robin has a racial double standard as well: he leaves the cannibals alone, so long as they are merely eating each other; but when another European is prisoner, he is so outraged that he immediately begins indiscriminately slaughtering all of them within reach.

I was also surprised at his extreme lack of curiosity. He spent years on the island before even performing the least cursory exploration. There could have been an English seaport on the far side and he would have never found it, being too busy building a fortress out of paranoid delusions. He could have starved to death, never knowing that there were thousands of tortoises on the far shore. He was a very clever man, very inventive and persistant, and could plan well ahead, but he had no vision.

A thought I had: suppose the English ship had not landed and he had not happened across the Spaniard and Friday. He would have lived a long life, been very comfortable, and then died. He would never have advanced his mind or discovered anything new. He was merely getting along, in what amounted to the “upper end of the lower class” existance he so despised! An analogy: a sheep escapes from the confinement of the herd and pen, wanders to a far valley and spends years learning how to fence itself back in, perhaps even learning how to fleece itself!

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: