, Research Paper
The Imperialistic Views of Robinson Crusoe
In Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe illustrates the beliefs of a 18th century British citizen. Robinson Crusoe, stranded on an island, takes it upon himself to better those around him. He takes the time to educate Friday and teach him ?civil? ways. Crusoe feels the burden of a British citizen for he believes that it is necessary and a Christian thing to do. Crusoe views Friday as an inferior being and feels that he should better this being by showing him the true way of life that is exemplified by a gentleman. This imperial view was held by most Britain and was what they felt as a moral obligation to show inferior people the correct way.
Robinson Crusoe sees his situation as a time to establish another branch of the British Empire and appointed himself king. He viewed everything on the island as being his. Robinson Crusoe thought himself to be the most superior being therefore is was necessary to guide everything in the British manner. When he discovers and saves Friday, he is wary of letting someone of such meager lifestyle stay with him. Yet Crusoe still takes the time to educate this man and teach him how to serve his master. Crusoe named Friday to remind him of the day that he saved his life. This was supposed to brand Friday with an everlasting debt to Crusoe. Another imperialist action that Crusoe takes is teaching Friday English. He makes absolutely no effort to learn the language of Friday?s people and the first word that he teaches Friday is Master. This is so that Friday will recognize the fact that Crusoe is his superior. After Robinson Crusoe has sufficiently educated Friday he instructs Friday in the ways of Christianity. This is a moral action that Crusoe takes in order to save Friday?s soul. Yet in other aspects of their relationship Crusoe often contradicts these imperialistic beliefs.
Crusoe utilizes Friday as a tool, by making him work, but he also sees him as a compatriot. He often recounts how loyal a servant Friday was and how he finally trusted him. He went into battle and entrusted his life with an inferior being. I do not believe that a British soldier would trust a cannibal with his life. Crusoe has come to believe, though, that Friday has been civilized enough that he could bring him back with him to England. Crusoe almost admires Friday in some instances. For example, when Friday kills the bear crossing the mountains, Crusoe seems enchanted with the way that he handled the hunt. He was interested by another culture?s process of killing an animal. This contradicts the imperialistic way of thinking. Crusoe should have shown Friday the proper way to dispose of a threat such as a bear. Friday was endangering others? lives by showing a cultural quirk.
Crusoe is under the belief that British citizens have a moral obligation to better the lives of inferiors. God who has given him such gifts has placed this moral burden upon his shoulders and he must show others the higher way. Being stranded on a desert island is a perfect way to practice imperialism and Crusoe does just that. He has taught the natives English and shown them the correct way to address God, thus practicing imperialism.