Robinson Crusoe

As irritatingly long as this novel was, it was also interesting enough that I at times actually became motivated to read for the content. The story is a classic adventure tale, containing a somewhat compelling protagonist and a lot of extremely convenient plot devices which were integrated well enough overall. My biggest problem would be with the way it was written, but considering the context of when it was written, I suppose that there’s not much point in complaining about that.

 

Now, not that I’m an animal rights activist or anything, but the way Crusoe proclaims himself the undisputed king of his island felt rather pretentious considering the variety of wildlife already existing in it. This mindset really shows just how sad it is when the guy, out of loneliness, maims a bunch of birds and other animals to keep him company. He drowns puppies and shoots cats, but keeps a few as pets for his entertainment. PETA would have a field day with this novel had it been written in modern times (which would definitely be more plausible than attacking Pokémon).

 

That aside, there is an interesting tension in the plot (the main tension) where Crusoe fights with himself on whether to seek adventure or stay at home. In a sense, this represents two desires—the desire for change, and the desire for stability. I find this an interesting psychological topic as there are many instances of both being true in regards to the human condition, which may show that neither of the two are absolute desires. On a philosophical level, however, I have yet to be proven wrong that all humans require change (i.e. conflict) on some level in order to exist, and this is no exception. Translated into psychology, I’d say that the desire for stability stems from mental conflict whereas the desire for change stems from physical conflict. Someone seeks change when they desire physical interaction and conflict with their surroundings, whereas someone seeks stability when they are in constant mental/inner conflict. Everything, of course, needs to be considered in their relative rather than absolute terms, and in reality every perceivable factor influences their reference to some degree. In the case of Crusoe, his desire for change may have formed due to an excess of stability (i.e. his father). Being guaranteed a life of comfort is basically the same as being told how your life is going to play out, and Crusoe most likely perceived this guarantee as a stagnation of conflict. Thus, being naturally compelled to seek conflict, he chose to go to sea. Of course, he regretted it soon after as he found that the stability he took for granted was in fact not so guaranteed, but even so, we see that he forsook his many chances to return home in favour of eventually getting shipwrecked on an isolated island. We see, then, that poor Crusoe suffered from a common case of short-term memory throughout his life. 

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