How are the central ideas of the Enlightenment era reflected in the Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s travel and the painting Gin Lane by William Hogarth? I will additionally focus more on the Robinson Crusoe, because it could be argued that Robinson Crusoe is based on René Descartes works, the father of modern philosophy. In order to answer the thesis we need to understand the central ideas in the Enlightenment
The Enlightenment era introduced a new way of thinking, on the contrary to earlier, where God was the centre of the universe and deep-rooted traditions ruled; now the ideas suggested that the understanding of reality should be founded on reason and rational research. Ideals of freedom and ...view middle of the document...
The fourth rule was to make numerations so complete, and reviews so general in order to be sure nothing omitted. All of these rules are reflected in the Robinson Crusoe, which is a novel published in 1719 by Daniel Defoe.
Robinson Crusoe is required to do a lot of thinking in order to survive in the deserted island. By the reason of his solitary, Crusoe does not have a companion for a long period on the island, and he thus has no one to discuss with in regards to his survival methods. Hence, he must think to survive, taking Descartes’ quote to a literal sense. If Crusoe does not think, he would not exist because he would not survive.
Isolated from civilization and society, Crusoe is given more time to himself to think about human nature and his thoughts about religion, two other ideas involved with the Enlightenment era. Although Crusoe talks more about spirituality in the second page of the short excerpt, the previous page speaks almost nothing about God or religion, and most of his thoughts surround reasoning, rather than praying or thinking about God. Even after Crusoe “discovers” his faith, he still relies on his skills and knowledge, rather than on his religion.
Another instance of Enlightenment in Robinson Crusoe is the relationship between Crusoe and Friday. As we discussed in class, the relationship between the two men started off as a relationship between a slave and his master, although soon evolved into more of a loyal friendship as Crusoe realized Friday’s intellectual capacity and became grateful for human contact. This is one of the themes of the Enlightenment: that people, think, so they are considered human. Instead of Crusoe considering Friday less than human by being his slave, Friday demonstrated his intellectual capacity and therefore proved himself more of a companion, or human, to Crusoe.
Correspondingly, Gulliver’s Travels is a text about a man who is stranded on a deserted island. Even though companionless was not implied in the Gulliver’s Travels, there were rather different groups of creatures that led to creating a negative image of human nature. Gulliver’s Travels is a parody of a travel journal written satirically. In that particular period, people were on voyages more often exploring new lands and islands, simultaneously writing travel journals. However, not everybody could afford to travel, therefore the people above average wealth shared their travel journals to the rest of people.
Many people believe that the voyage to the Houyhnhnms is about human nature itself, arguing that reason is one quality, when properly developed, can elevate man to his ultimate potential. Ironically, the horse-like Houyhnhnms possess this development of...