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Robinson Crusoe Microtheme Essay, Research Paper
R. L. Fisher struck ground when he said “Robinson Crusoe can be appreciated on a multitude of levels: as an adventure story, a morality tale, a ledger sheet, a Puritan fable, a survival course, a defense of the ethnic of hard work as a way of salvation, a symbolic narrative recounting one man’s quest for spiritual salvation, one man’s successful re-creation of the world he left behind.” As I read the novel for the first time I found that my reading was of the Crusoe’s quest for spiritual salvation.
The first obvious reference to spiritual matters was to Jonah in the very first chapter, which at the end of the chapter is even out-right mentioned. Like an obstinate boy Crusoe rebelled against his father’s advice to “stay and settle at home” (p. 5), and boarded a ship bound for London. In this way, Crusoe resolved to decide if the life of the sea was actually what he wanted. The ride was quite unpleasant for Crusoe, who got quite seasick when a small storm arose; he vowed to God to never set foot on another boat again if his life would be spared. God saved his life, and the intensity of Crusoe’s fears and convictions soon wore off.
Many mishaps later, Robinson Crusoe found himself, like Jonah spewed onto the shores of a distant land; he was now stranded on a deserted island with no hope of being rescued or surviving on the island. This can be symbolic of the solitude of man’s quest
for God; although people can help us along the way (Crusoe had two benefactors), the actual spiritual journey of humanity is a deeply personal, solitary pilgrimage. Until we can be content alone with God, it can be distracting and possibly even (spiritually) dangerous to be with others.
While on the island, Crusoe first concentrated on physical survival: retrieving what wreckage he could from the ship (which by the grace of God included three Bibles), building a shelter, hunting for food, creating clothes, and the like. Once the physical necessities were cared for, he began to search for something greater: he realized the “great reason [he] had to be thankful” (148) to God for sparing his life and providing for him so completely. Up to this point, Crusoe had not thought about God during his life, save the time or two when he thought he would die at sea. At this point in his spiritual quest, Crusoe turned to God and began a daily walk with Him, setting aside the anniversary of his being saved from the shipwreck as a special day of thankfulness and adoration.
After twenty-four years of being alone with God, growing in his appreciation of God’s countless mercies, his solitude ended. Crusoe saved a man, Friday, from being eaten by ’savages’. Alas, God has once again provided Robinson Crusoe with his every need, which was now companionship and to move on in his spiritual life to sharing with others what he had learned during his time alone with God. Crusoe explains his desire, that God “would enable me to instruct savingly this poor savage, assisting by His Spirit the heart of the poor ignorant creature to receive the light of the knowledge of God in
Christ ” (p.241). Crusoe has now moved on in his spiritual journey to begin witnessing to others. Through the course of their friendship, Friday became a Christian.
As time progressed, others were brought into the life of Robinson Crusoe, until he was physically able, and finally spiritually ready to return to the scene of his childhood. Crusoe was now mature enough to be able to continue in his spiritual journey without being compelled to solitude with God, on a now almost-deserted island.
Robinson Crusoe had by now matured in his relationship with God that he could continue to mentor Friday, who stayed with him, we presume until death. Crusoe also became a leader in whatever crowds he found himself: at one point devising a means to save his traveling companions from five hundred wolves (symbolic of spiritual warfare?). Crusoe was a wealthy man (from the success of his plantation in Brazil and the honesty of his associates), and used these provisions supplied by God to aid the poor of Brazil, and to help those who remained on his island. So, by the end of the novel, Crusoe had matured to the point where he was living the biblical directive to help the poor and assist others on their quest for God.
There is much to be learned from the life of Robinson Crusoe as presented in the novel by Defoe. Through his telling of his story, Crusoe made numerous observations about the state of man and his relationship to God and to others. Crusoe’s spiritual quest and journey began after his physical one halted. “Thus we never see the true state of our condition till it is illustrated to us by its contraries; nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it” (p. 154). If we desire to get close to God, we must put aside the world and concentrate on Him.
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