Robinson Crusoe And Gulliver

’s Travels: The Soldier Within Essay, Research Paper


characters in Gullivers Travels and Robinson Crusoe are portrayed as resembling

trained soldiers, being capable of clear thought during tense and troubled

times. This quality possessed within Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver is a result

of the author’s background and knowledge. Daniel Defoe was knowledgeable and

proficient in seamanship, he understood the workings of a ship and the skills

required for its operation. Daniel Defoe, an intelligent man who is

knowledgeable in self defense and military tactics, which is reflected in the

actions of Robinson Crusoe who insists on always one step ahead of his

opponent, wether it be an enemy, nature or himself. Robinson Crusoe is the know

all, does all type of person. He becomes stranded on a desolate island and does

whatever is necessary to survive. After being on the island for several years

Crusoe learns to adapt to his surroundings (an important feature in becoming a

good soldier) and lives with what he has.In the

17th century, the Catholic reform was sweeping through many parts of Europe.

The period from 1600 to about 1750 is known as the Baroque Era. Throughout this

period the Catholic Church was fighting back against the effects of the

Renaissance. The people of the Renaissance society started to question their

beliefs in the church and tried to rationally explain the world around them.

Several crusades were fought throughout this period and in the end England and

France became "Christianized." Robinson Crusoe was published during

the Baroque Era and it contained a great amount of Catholicism. Crusoe becomes

a good Christian during his lonely stay on the deserted island and converts his

companion Friday when he arrives on the island from cannibalism to

Christianity. Crusoe has been placed on this barren island as a punishment for

his sins (disobeying his father) and for leaving his middle station of life.

Being lonely, home stricken and afraid has allowed Robinson Crusoe to fill his

desire for company by allowing God into his life through his nightly readings

of the Bible. Defoe is a

strong believer in God. He believes that God’s providence shapes the lives of

all men and that any unusual circumstances or misfortunes that occur happen

because that is the way God wanted it. The psychological condition of Robinson

Crusoe was not totally imagined by Daniel Defoe. Defoe was not a stranger to

the life of solitude. In the early 18th century, Defoe was imprisoned for about

six months. He was thrown in jail because of a controversial pamphlet that he

wrote called The shortest Was With Dissenters. In this pamphlet Defoe

humorously implied that all people who were not members of the Church of

England should be killed. This imprisonment may have given Defoe several

inklings of what it is like to be totally cut off from civilization. Robinson

Crusoe survives on his island and adapts very well to his surroundings, but his

companionship with God is not enough. In desperation he trains a parrot to

speak to him just to hear another voice, even though the irony is that, the

voice is just a repetition of his own.Years

later he discovers a footprint on the beach and totally flips his lid. He

becomes terribly paranoid and very careful. Crusoe covers any tracks that would

give the owner of the foot print an idea that he lives on the island. Crusoe

becomes totally enraged with the thought of another human on the island that he

prepares his house for war by surrounding it by an impenetrable fence, arming

all his weapons and is ready to kill anyone that comes near his sacred home,

grain, and animals. His condition is now evident: the strengths of his

character that has made him flourish in isolation has now distorted all his

social instincts and civilized manners. He only feels comfortable with himself,

his animals, and the Lord in which he can trust. Crusoe lives in fear of the

footprint for the next couple of years. Crusoe has become confused, at first he

dreams for someone to come and save him, then he feels that someone may destroy

him. He has been isolated form civilization for more than 15 years and it has

driven him to the point of uncertainty, paranoia and slight lunacy. During the

stay on the island, Robinson Crusoe became an architect, a carpenter, a baker,

a tailor, a farmer, an umbrella maker, a preacher and even a man. But most

important he learnt to respect fate.Swift, a

wise and educated man, cleverly gains the readers respect during the

progression of the novel. The first thought the reader has is that Swift does

not even take Gulliver very seriously. For instance, his name sounds much like

gullible, which suggests that he will believe in anything. Gulliver, an

ordinary, good man, not rich and the son of a small country holder poses the

drive for adventure and the quality of a mentally sound individual. In

Lilliput, he shows himself to be good-natured and gentle with the tiny people.

Gulliver assists in the war against Blefuscu by not injuring his

"enemies." But deprives them of their weapons which inflict damage. By

doing so he immediately shows his noble generosity and respect for the liberty

of others by refusing to enslave the Blefuscudians. Being treated poorly by the

Lilliputians, Gulliver has two choices, 1. To flee 2. To kill his enemy. To his

credit, he does not seriously consider killing his enemy, but rather flees.

Gulliver has won the confidence of the reader as being trustworthy, a man of

integrity, uprightness, sound judgement, and humanity. The shift

in surroundings allows Gulliver’s mental state to change form one extreme

another which begins in Brodingnagian where he is subjected to constant

humiliations in the land of the giants and develops defenses for his

self-esteem. He boasts what he would have done to the monkeys if he had thought

of using his sword; he brags to the court ladies about the seamanship he

possesses. But it is the sharp-witted, keen eyed Brodingnagian king who puts

Gulliver on the defensive and the effects on Gulliver are worth noticing. He

becomes uncomfortable and begins to shuffle and lie his way out of intense

situations allowing one to see him as being much less then we had taken him to

be. This change in Gulliver has destroyed and distorted one’s trust in his

judgement and honesty. One must then henceforth weigh his accomplishments very

carefully. Gulliver is a changing dynamic character. In the second chapter came

his recognition that the Yahoo is the "perfect human figure," but by

the fifth chapter, Gulliver struggles with the fact of seeing himself as a

Yahoo, which depicts the foul, ugly, obscene and stupid part of man. As

Gulliver returns to the land of men, it clearly emerges that he is seriously

unhinged and a thoroughly changed character. He suffers from what the Greeks

called hybris, and arrogant pride characterized by a man stepping out of his

proper place in the world. Traditionally a hybris is quickly followed by death

or other serious punishment. Instead of the good-natured Gulliver, there is one

whose ill-nature flourishes. Instead of the patriotic Englishman, there is one

who detests the thought of England. The events Gulliver experienced changed his

views. He posses the ability to see the poor humanities of man kind. Man kind

is not superior, we have many great faults which are summed up in a single

quote.? I am not the least provoked and the sight of

a lawyer, a pickpocket, a colonel, a fool, a lord, a gambler, a politician,a

whoremonger, a physician, an evidence, a suborner, an attorney, a traitor, or

the like: this is all according to the due course of things: but when I behold

a lump of deformity and diseases, both in body and mind, smitten with pride, it

im-mediatly breaks all the measures of my patience; neither shall I be ever

able to comprehend how such an animal and such a vice could tally together.(Jonathan

Swift, Gulliver’s Travels)Both

Gulliver and Robinson are changing characters. At first they could not see the

hidden details of life. But through solitude, trauma, conquest and failure have

allowed both characters to realize the achievements, failures, and stupidity of

man kind. Being able to rationalize from experience and calculation is a

quality of a soldier.?


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