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Robinson Crusoe

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An argumentative essay that argues that Robinson Crusoe s perception and treatment of the ...... More...
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Paper Abstract:
An argumentative essay that argues that Robinson Crusoe’s perception and treatment of the natives on the island is emblematic of ethnocentrism associated with British imperialism.

Paper Introduction:
Robinson CrusoeIntroduction The story of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Dafoe demonstrates Britishimperialism and ethnocentrism The story is based on the real-lifeadventures of a Scottish Sailor named Alexander Selkirk who quicklyfaded from memory as Defoe\'s fictional Crusoe became a great success p Shipwrecked on an island of savages Crusoe encounters anexceptional savage he attempts to tame and turn into an ideal servant hisMan Friday Throughout the novel we see that British culture the culturewhich Crusoe is part of is portrayed as being superior

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Therefore,Crusoe only admires Friday because his characteristics are similar to theones idealized by his own, British, culture.Body The opening of Robinson Crusoe revolves around Crusoe's ability tobe self-reliant and develop the skills and abilities necessary to survive.The first part of the book describes this process. We see that despite Crusoe's and Friday's relationship, Crusoe stillviews Friday and his customs as savage, while Friday appears to understandthat the customs and practices of his native people have long beenconsidered the norm on the island. The savage that hasbeen tamed and the wayward child that is brought to God is visiblerepresented by Friday, but spiritually represented by Crusoe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.Heydt, Bruce. While most Europeansended up exploiting and enslaving indigenous cultures during imperialism,Crusoe, at least, does not enslave Friday but rather makes of him a friendand companion with whom he shares his life. Yet, whenFriday tells Crusoe of the Priestcraft of his people, Crusoe maintains,with some appreciation, "the Policy of making a secret Religion, in orderto preserve the Veneration of the People to the Clergy, is not only to befound in Roman, but perhaps among all Religions in the World, even amongthe most brutish and barbarous Savages" (Defoe, p. Throughout the novel, we see that British culture, the culturewhich Crusoe is part of, is portrayed as being superior to the culture ofthe cannibalistic savages he encounters on the Island. Crusoe retains the innate senseof racial and genetic superiority typical of an Englishman of his era,place, and class. 4). 121).This alteration shows the physical and internal processes in Defoe's Crusoeare actually Crusoe's own internal processes of development. Like Britain, Crusoe becomes more confident he isacting in God's name and of God's will by saving those "inferior" to hisown culture. Ed. Robinson CrusoeIntroduction The story of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Dafoe demonstrates Britishimperialism and ethnocentrism. While Crusoe does,indeed, tame one of them, Man Friday, Man Friday is only consideredexceptional by Crusoe because he is the most "British" of these savages.Man Friday is admirable to Crusoe because he is generous, grateful, honest,and desires to do good. Ashe tells the Captain of the English ship who rescues him, "And where,Sir,"..."is your Belief of my being preserv'd here on purpose to save yourLife?" (Defoe, p. Mcinelly says of Defoe's protagonist,"Psychologically, Robinson Crusoe shows that relations with an alien Othercan hone an ego that can master both its own selfhood and the destiny ofothers," a foundational sentiment of European imperialism and ethnocentrism(p. The story is based on the real-lifeadventures of a Scottish Sailor named "Alexander Selkirk," who "quicklyfaded from memory" as Defoe's fictional Crusoe "became a great success" (p.18). 18-22.Marzec, Robert P. AsMarzec argues, "Crusoe tames the undifferentiated earth of the island byendowing the land with the positive and moral seed of Providence. In other words, Man Friday is only consideredadmirable by Crusoe because he is the exceptional savage who appears to beas "British" as the British. "Woodes Rogers Rescues The Real Robinson Crusoe." British Heritage, 26(1), Mar 2 5, pp. "Robinson Crusoe." Viewed on Jan 2 , 2 5: http://www.wmich.edu/dialogues/texts/robinsoncrusoe.html, May 2 1, pp. This justifies for Crusoe his superiority over Fridayand his right to impose upon him Christianity and European values andmores. Yet Crusoe only acts as savior and companion to Fridaybecause he is portrayed as exceptional and more British in characteristicsthan the other savages. His actions are almost immediately repaid byFriday's servility, and his own gratitude for being relieved of hissolitary condition. Nevertheless, Crusoe, like many European missionaries ofthe era, continues to convert Friday to the religion and ideals ofAnglicans. 26 ). 217). Periodically, Crusoe is endangered by the visits ofcannibalistic savages. In orderto cope with an entirely Other form of land than that to which he isaccustomed, he introduced an ideological apparatus to over-code the earth"(p. 131). Without such qualities, it is likely that Crusoe would just aseasily have killed Friday as saved him. As Zuiderveenmaintains of Defoe's Crusoe, "The important idea here is not just that heis teaching Christianity, but rather than he is becoming a better Christianwhile enslaving another man," (p. Works CitedDefoe, Daniel. The ethnocentrism associated withimperialism is quite evident in the novel, since Crusoe views the naturalhabits and practices of the island natives as repulsive and inferior tothose of his own. Robinson Crusoe. We see that Crusoe views Friday as exceptional because he exhibitsmany of the qualities and characteristics of an ideal Britain. Crusoe encounters his savage at a moment of crisis for Man Friday.Friday was intended as dinner for his fellow. Friday becomes a carbon copy ofhis white master, as he makes "all the Signs...of Subjection, Servitude,and Submission" (Defoe, p. Crusoe, then, becomes Friday'ssavior, the role many Europeans viewed themselves as occupying compared tothose of foreign cultures whose lands they occupied and eventually tookcontrol over. Crusoe is repulsed by their behaviors,but we must consider that this repulsion is the product of his Christian,European, and, therefore, "civilized," in his mind, background. 129-134.Mcinelly, Brett C. We can only surmise that had Friday at any timeexhibited to Crusoe the violence and danger that the cannibals posed;Crusoe would not have hesitated to kill him. 1-4. Still, Crusoe's tamingof this "foreign" land is similar to his eventual taming of Friday. 279). By viewing his own culture as superior to that of the natives,Crusoe views himself as taming the savage in Friday. On the one hand, we havethe heathen, pagan, cannibals; on the other, we have mutinous sailors whofor simple greed, rebel against authority and kill their own officers.Friday is an exception to the inherent cruelty of the cannibals, but wemust remember that the cannibals considered their own way of life to beperfectly acceptable and normal. It is only because of Friday'ssuperiority and willingness to forsake his own culture in favor of Europeanculture that Crusoe considers him exceptional. 2 6). His desire to live and toescape his fate led him to flee from them. "Expanding Empires, Expanding Selves: Colonialism, The Novel, and Robinson Crusoe." Studies in the Novel, 35(1), Spring 2 3, pp. J. Clocktower, 2 4.Zuiderveen, Josh. Shipwrecked on an island of "savages," Crusoe encounters anexceptional savage he attempts to tame and turn into an ideal servant, hisMan Friday. In contrast,Friday understands the impetus toward cannibalism. 1). 3). Nevertheless, Crusoe feels redeemedonly because of his ethnocentric view that the culture he has imposed onFriday is a superior one and righteous in the eyes of a Christian God. On the island, apart from others, Crusoe imagines himselfthe "Lord of the whole Manor; or if I pleas'd, I might call my self King,or Emperor over the whole Country which I had possession of," an attitudehighly representative of British imperialism and ethnocentrism (Defoe, p.128). 4). We see howan advanced civilization like Europe views an "uncivilized" culture likethat of the natives in the process of interaction. He appears incontrast to the "Negroes." In his dealings with Friday, there is a strongstrain of superiority and condescension on behalf of Crusoe, one that isfueled by imperialism and ethnocentrism. Fridaybecomes a "faithful, loving, sincere servant...without passions, sullennessor designs, perfectly obliged and engaged: his very affections were tied tome, like those of a child to a father and I dare say he would havesacrificed his life for the saving of mine, upon any occasion whatever"(Defoe, p. In Terry Sunbord's new book,Robinson Crusoe 1, , A.D., a Robinson Crusoe-like figure fights forsurvival in the far-future, but instead of encountering a savage native whoneeds saved, he encounters a "cannibalistic clone" of himself (p. This superiority is evident, even though Crusoe informsus of his own insignificant station in European society, "mine was themiddle State, or what might be called the upper Station of Low Life"(Defoe, p. We must not forget the power attributed to Crusoe, even in hisability to "name" Friday. Man Friday is characterized as an attractive fellowwith a good face that seems to reflect even the sweet and soft Europeanappearance, especially compared to the other natives. While he has forswornthe practice, he cannot help but recognize that it is a cultural phenomenonwhich his and other peoples of the region have long accepted as natural.Conclusion The saving of Friday, then, is a saving that occurs only becauseFriday's admirable qualities are the qualities admired by Crusoe's ownculture. As Zuiderveen notes of Crusoe, "Crusoe,instead of merely allowing that he saved Friday's life out of good will, isthrilled with the prospect of having a devoted slave" (p. Donald Crowley. He rescues and tames one of these savages to becomethe ideal servant. "Enclosures, Colonization, and the Robinson Crusoe Syndrome: A Genealogy of Land in a Global Context." Boundary, 2(29), Feb 2 2, pp. Robinson Crusoe 1, , A.D.. 1-2 .Sunbord, Terry. He gradually weans him away from his taste for human flesh andoffers Crusoe the opportunity to introduce the European Christian God intothe life of a savage.

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