Servantship In Robinson Crusoe And The Tempest

1990 words - 8 pages

Literature has always been a source of exploring the world and the history of mankind. In Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, both authors use the concept of slavery, race and class. In Defoe’s story, the relationship between Crusoe and his slave, Friday, is one of mutual respect and trust. In the second selection by Shakespeare, the master-slave relationship is one that is characterized by force, violence and power. These two works share the common theme of servantship and slavery, which were largely based on differences in class and race. In both stories, differences in character, race and class have an influence on the servants and in their relationship with their master.
In the work by Defoe, Crusoe comes from a middle class family wanting to explore the world. His father wants him to pursue law but Crusoe goes against his father’s wishes and goes out to sea. Crusoe later colonizes an island, where he is destined to meet a man who would become his faithful servant and slave named Friday. When Friday first encounters Crusoe, Crusoe saves him from being eaten by other cannibals: “[…] and he came nearer and nearer, kneeling down every Ten or Twelve steps in token of acknowledgement for my saving his Life.” (Defoe, 223) Although they have a master-servant relationship, their bond is unique. Friday seems to be very grateful to Crusoe for saving his life and willingly becomes a servant to Crusoe. This will also affect their relationship later in the story. Crusoe stated that Friday “kneeled down to me, seeming to pray me to assist him, […] and he became my servant.” (Defoe, 218) Crusoe’s attitude towards Friday is warm and inviting “I smiled at him and looked pleasantly, and beckoned to him to comes still nearer: […] (Defoe, 234). One would think that their differences in language would present a barrier in their relationship; however, Crusoe is so fond of Friday that he teaches him English. Friday is a grateful servant who is now able to communicate with his master and society. In addition, learning English gives Friday an opportunity to escape from the island: an opportunity he never takes. Although Friday is Crusoe’s “servant” in the conventional sense because he performs duties for his master, Crusoe also views him as his companion and close friend.
In Shakespeare’s selection, The Tempest, Prospero is exiled from his kingdom and sentenced to an island far away. In comparison to Defoe’s story, Prospero is sent away and chooses to colonize a new island with his daughter. The son of an evil witch, Caliban and an imprisoned servant, Ariel, already had inhabited the island. Ariel and Caliban are both forced to become Prospero’s servant, but unlike Crusoe in Defoe’s selection, Prospero is portrayed as a ruthless master who shows little loyalty to his servants. Although Ariel is a more willing servant for Prospero, Caliban is forced to serve Prospero and attempts to betray him. Furthermore, Prospero...

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