Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gina Chinino 1st Blog Post on Robinson Crusoe

In the novel "Fantomina", we as readers discussed an underlying pro-feminism messages throughout the text. 

Now in "Robinson Crusoe", there is a different message: religion. Robinson Crusoe puts the blame on God when something bad happens to him, but also says it was God's doing when something good happens to him. 

Do you think that Daniel Defoe is spiritual and mirrored this character after his religious beliefs? In what lines are these comments the strongest? Or do you feel that when Robinson Crusoe gets lucky or comes across misfortune has nothing to do with religion? Do you feel there is a stronger message Defoe is trying to portray in his writing besides religion? If so, what is it andwhy do you feel this way?


  1. As far as textual evidence goes, or lack thereof, I do not believe that Daniel Defoe is intentionally incorporating his own religious views with those of the main character, Robinson. Up until the point of the journal that Robinson keeps, we do not see any significant signs of religious belief. Robinson Crusoe makes several references to a higher power when he believes that "providence" has created his circumstance. For example, when he makes a list of the "evils" and "goods" of being caught on an island, he says "but God wonderfully sent the ship in near enough to the shore". Here, we see Crusoe attributing his good fortune to a higher power. Yet, on page 33, Crusoe admits, "I was born to be my own destroyer, could no more resist the offer than I could restrain my first rambling designs". It becomes unclear what Crusoes true religious beliefs really are: whether he is in control or God is. I think that Crusoe's "religion" or reasoning for his current circumstance is dependent on his desire to believe that he isn't actually in isolation, and that someone is looking out for him; that way, he is less lonely.

  2. I would disagree slightly with Dayna. At the time Robinson Crusoe was written, religion was a central tenet of almost every society, which meant that religion played a part in Defoe's life. Though religion is not the central theme of the book, the parts where religion is discussed seems to reflect how people at that time viewed their relationship with God. I think the way Defoe created Crusoe was how any independent and hard-headed young man would've reacted and acted with his relationship with God.

    In his journal he weaves in and out repeatedly about his relationship with God, especially on page 78 where he says, "Now I look'd back upon my past life with such horror, and my sins appear'd so dreadful, that my soul sought nothing of God, but deliverance from the load of guilt that bore down all my comfort."

    I would definitely agree with Dayna and say that part of the existence of religion in this book has to do with a "friend" for Crusoe. He's trapped on an island, with a few animals, but other than that, he's alone. Creating and continuing a relationship with God helps him pass the time and feel less lonely.

  3. While I don't think that Defoe is intentionally inserting religion into "Robinson Crusoe," I do believe that he is spiritual. Like Samantha said, religion was at the center of the lives of people living in England during the end of the 17th and 18th century (Defoe's time). I think that the way that Crusoe interacts with God and religion mirrors the religious beliefs held by most of Defoe's peers. The passage that strikes me the most as reflecting the point that religion plays in Defoe's writing is "I learn'd to look more upon the bright side of my condition, and less upon the dark side; and to consider what I enjoy'd, rather than what I wanted; and this gave me sometimes such secret comforts, that I cannot express them; and which I take notice of here, to put those discontented people in mind of it, who cannot enjoy comfortably what God has given them; because they see, and covet something that he has not given them: All our discontents about what we want, appeared to me, to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have" (103-104). Here I think Defoe is trying to get the message across to his readers that they should be thankful for what God has given them, rather than resentful for what they lack.

  4. Am I able to respond to my own post for credit? If so..

    I feel that the use of religion is intentional in the novel 'Robinson Crusoe'. In the early pages of Defoe's writing he uses God many times in his text. It is most strong during the time when Robinson departs on his first journey. He associates the uncertainty of the trip with getting punished by God because Robinson was disobeying his father's wishes of not going to sea. "If I did take this foolish step, God would not bless me, and I would have leisure hereafter to reflect upon having neglected his counsel" (7). Once Robinson did go to sea and had been on multiple voyages he still references God. However, I think he does this in order to connect with his parents. (Although, this is a long shot and a different way from what most people think.) I feel Robinson does feel a small amount of guilt and in order to connect to his parents that he disobeyed, he uses religion to connect to that level. For example, my father is religious and while I am away at school I go to church in order to feel closer with him although I am far away. This could be a similar scenario with Robinson. He verbally discusses God and religion in order to feel closer with his parents since he does feel a slight amount of guilt by going on his own because he is now alone and realizes they were trying to get him to stay at home for his own safety and well-being. Although this could be a failed observation; I feel Defoe uses religion as his theme in this novel to connect Robinson with his parents.

  5. There are a number of interesting possibilities raised here! That Crusoe turns to religion
    --to give him a sense of companionship or comfort,
    --to feel connected to his family,
    --or to acknowledge that he has not been completely destroyed by his circumstances.

    There are other available possibilities that haven't been mentioned so far: that he turns to God
    --out of a craven hope that God will reward him with more good fortune,
    --out of a craven fear that God will punish him if he doesn't,
    --out of a need to believe that he has some power over his circumstances
    --because he doesn't have a lot of other things to occupy his mind.

    There's a difference to remark, however, between something that is psychologically plausible and something that is a feature of the novel. A reader can attribute certain feelings or reactions to a character based on the belief that anyone in his position could reasonably be expected to think or feel that way). It's important to keep in mind, though, that Robinson Crusoe doesn't actually exist; the only things that he thinks or feels are the things that Defoe has written into the novel.

    So, of the various functions that religion could conceivably serve for Defoe (some of which have been identified in this response thread), which seem to you to be elements that Defoe has deliberately sought to weave into the story? What evidence does the novel give you?

  6. I would like to agree with Gina and state that I am convinced that Daniel Defoe intentionally incorporated religious elements into this fictional narrative. Although on page 33 Crusoe admits that he is his own destroyer, this excerpt may also indicate how providence works by giving us options to follow, good and bad choices. He is his destroyer for choosing to act against God. In the Old Testament, a vengeful God (Sodom and Gomorrah) is more prominent than a merciful and compassionate God portrayed in the New Testament. Crusoe knew that he should have been an obedient son, but instead, he followed his own desires and was struck down by God. He is his own destroyer because God kept on giving him chances to turn back. God kept saving his life, and it was up to him to finally submit to God’s will. On the island, Crusoe realizes that Providence has given him sustenance and a bountiful life. Furthermore, Crusoe evangelizes and realizes that although he is not an expert in religion, he still has a relationship with God that can convince a non-believer, Friday, to become Christian. During his deliverance from the Island, the first thing that Crusoe did was “ I forgot not to lift up my heart in thankfulness in Heaven… from whom every deliverance must always be acknowledged to proceed” (Defoe, 215). Crusoe had been saved by God many times before, and yet as a younger individual, he had forgotten to thank providence. Now, as an older and wiser man, the first thing he had done was to thank God. Robinson Crusoe’s life seems to be more of a spiritual journey in which he discovers his dependence on both a stern and loving God.

  7. This novel, to me, seems to be, not only a man's physical adventure, but also his spiritual journey through his trials. As the novel starts out, there is very little mention of God. As it goes on for the first hundred pages or so, God is only mentioned when either something great or terrible happens. Other than that, he does not really acknowledge God. As he has more time on the island, however, and more time to truly think about his life and his condition, he brings God more and more into his life, and, in doing so, God becomes more and more present in the book. Robinson is realizing through his solitary condition, what is really important in life. These things happen to be things like shelther, safety, companionship, and devotion to God. I believe that Defoe might be saying, through Robinson, that God is one of the essential parts of a human's life.