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The Impact Of Robinson Crusoe Essays On The Ecology Of The Island

788 words - 3 pages

Daniel Defoe wrote his fictional novel Robinson Crusoe during the 18th century, a time of colonization, and the British agricultural revolution. In the novel Robinson Crusoe desires civilization and comforts during his years on the island, so much that he alters the ecology of the fictional “island” in order to fulfill his craving. Consequently, Robinson Crusoe changes the ecology of the island, with the introduction of invasive species, European crops, and enclosures. Crusoe uses the practices of the British agricultural revolution to colonize the island, and to better his life during his stay.
Robinson Crusoe did not crash on the island alone, he “carry’d both the Cats with me, and as for the Dog, he jump’d out of the Ship of himself.” (100) Crusoe’s dog stays with him for 16 years on the island, and is a loyal companion to Crusoe. Farmers and hunters have used dogs for centuries to flush out the hunt, and for guarding pasture and herds. Crusoe’s dog helps him to hunt goats, and to protect his crops before the construction of his enclosures. Cats are also used as pest management on many farms, and can help keep rodent infestations down. However, the cats that Crusoe brings with him overrun the island, and interbreed with an island feline species. These cats become a nuisance, and Crusoe is “so pester’d with Cats, that I was forc’d to kill them like Vermin, or wild Beasts.” (133) The new cat species will kill many of the islands local small wildlife, and is now a pest itself. Although, many people see these animals as household pets, Crusoe sees them as farm animals of utility, and to him they are disposable. Animals are not the only thing Crusoe brings with him to the island; he accidentally brings European corn seeds as well.
Moreover, during the British agricultural revolution, selective seed breeding was emerging in England, and seeds were selected for strength and viability. The seeds that Crusoe inadvertently plants on the island, “I shook the Husks of Corn out of it on one side of my Fortification under the Rock,” (111) are strong enough to survive the new climate “which I know was not proper for Corn.” (112) By introducing these seeds to the island, and further cultivating them, Crusoe affects the natural ecosystem. The crops of barley, rice, and corn will spread throughout the island, and change the diet of various local species. The wildlife that pesters...

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