The “Enlightened” God of Crusoe

(Quote 3)

To say that Crusoe is a hero of the Enlightenment era might be a stretch, but if we take into account the mental processes we witness in his diary keeping as well as how he reasons practically every aspect of his life we can see this blatant connection. Essentially, what Crusoe does is minimalize everything down to how he can use it for his own survival after being stranded on the island (before and after this point however, he mainly saw things only in terms of profit). Crusoe even goes as far as to create his own sort of God, which as the quote from Leopold Damrosch says, resembles Protestant ideology.

Crusoe, through out his initial time on the island does not exhibit much superstition as he is a rational man of Europe. However, there are moments in the text where we do see him turn to something outside of the field of Enlightened man. Some of these moments include when he is on the ship and actually begins to believe that his father’s words have cursed him (though can we really fault him? We all turn to something otherworldly when faced with turmoil, don’t we?). One of the more prominent moments however, when we can truly see Crusoe exiting the mind frame of an Enlightened man is when he turns to the Bible. Of course we may describe various different reasons for this, to stay sane, to keep his mind off of his condition, etc. Still, it appears that he has taken a turn from being the sensible, scientific method thinking kind of man to one devoted to the gospel (by scientific I mean his trial and error of various methods, and even the various lists and sort of charts he provides throughout the text). Surely a man as resourceful as Crusoe wouldn’t need the support of simple words on a page, right?

However, despite all his rationalizations, Crusoe does indeed turn to God but in a very different way than expected. He feels that this island is his punishment and accepts it, all the while begging for mercy from God to release him from the punishment (did I mention he accepted it totally?). Robinson adopts the mentality, without saying it exactly, that through work and toil he’ll atone/be liberated of his punishment and despite his seeking the word of God, the rational/Enlightened side of him still imposes his own view of God. As the quote describes, there is indeed a desacralizing of the world and he disconnects nature as having anything to do with God. Damrosch describes nature for Crusoe as “the workplace where man is expected to labor until it is time to go to a heaven too remote and hypothetical to ask questions about.” While the first part of his explanation of the island of Crusoe is true, it is the second half that really reveals Crusoe’s compromise to Enlightened reasoning. Not once does he consider any of his misfortunes as purely circumstantial or coincidence but keeps falling back to the superstition that surely it is because he did not heed his father’s words of warning.

Despite his occasional slip into superstition and his, however ‘rational’, way of viewing God and the bible, Crusoe still holds on to his rational mind. We can see every step he takes and how everything is broken down into a sort of logic. It is in his journal that we can see, in extremely (occasionally boring) particular detail how he goes about anything from farming to his form of pottery. All of this is recorded in his journal, which we may perhaps see as his own personal sort of bible.

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