Discuss The Exploration Of The Self In Robinson Crusoe

1841 words - 7 pages

'In all the time of my solitary life, I never felt so earnest, so strong a desire after the society of my fellow-creatures, or so deep a regret at the want of it.' (Robinson Crusoe). Use this quotation as a starting point for the exploration of the self in Robinson CrusoeSelf is broadly defined as the essential qualities that make a person distinct from all others. In Defoe's words the word, "governs the whole world; the present Race of Men all come into it. 'tis the foundation of every prospect in life, the beginning and end of our Actions." It is the essence of man.Crusoe undergoes a journey of self discovery whilst on the island. He learns things about himself that, quite probably, only years of isolation could have brought out in him. Defoe's novel was the first of a long pattern of story writing in which the hero undergoes a massive devlopment and maturation. Preliminary ignorance allows Crusoe to acquire wisdom whereby in Richetti's words, "the self can gradually discover outside itself that which it carries within."Defoe's exploration of the self lies in Crusoe's journey of self-discovery and his accomplishments in isolation vs. the inevitable loneliness that his life of solitude entails. The story explores how an individual can survive without society in the state of nature that the deserted island provides. Crusoe adapts to island life incredibly well, exploiting his limited resources and becoming completely self-reliant. It is a stirring account of the personal growth and devlopment of the self that takes place whilst stranded in solitude. Crusoe withdraws from the external social world and turns inward. In his 'solitary life' Crusoe is in fact able to explore himself and gains a sense of self-awareness by the end of the novel.We see that self-awareness is incredibly important to Crusoe in his normal day-to-day activities and his keeping of a calendar described as, "a sort of self-conscious or autobiographical calendar with him at its centre." Likewise, Crusoe is obsessive about keeping a journal and accounting for every minute detail that comes to pass on the island. Being self-aware is a coping mechanism for Crusoe exemplified in his teaching his parrot to say, "Poor Robin Crusoe. . . . Where have you been?" Crusoe may not seem a man to express his feelings well, but he voices his inner feelings here through the parrot. The taming of the parrot, wild goats and the land in general, all signify Crusoe's need to feel master of his fate in some way. He needs the sense of control in a life, which he may feel he has had little control of since being exiled on the island. By becoming a master over nature he feels he is more a master of his own fate and self.Becoming a master of the self is a key aspect of Defoe's ultimate survival. At the start of the novel Crusoe refers to his 'original sin' for disobeying his father and heading off to sea, and frequently blames himself for his destiny as a castaway. By mastering nature on the island he...

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