A Post-colonial Interpretation of Robinson Crusoe

Abstract: Daniel Defoe is a pioneer novelist of England in the 18th century and holds his unique status in English literature world. Defoe starts as a small merchant and all his life his business undergoes many ups and downs, and yet he is never beaten. His quick mind, abundant energy and never-falling enthusiasm always bring him back to his feet after a fall. He is also a prolific writer of books and pamphlets on a great variety of subjects. Defoe’s works include Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders, A Journal of the Plague Year and so on. At the age of nearly 60, his first novel Robinson Crusoe, an adventure story very much in the spirit of the time, is universally his masterpiece and establish Defoe’s reputation. From its publication in the 18th century, the hero’s romantic adventure has been a household word.In the eyes of common readers, Robinson is intelligent, fortitudinous, energetic and enthusiastic. After 28-year struggle on the desolate island, Robinson finally receives his success. In Robinson Crusoe, Defoe sings the praises of labor, presenting it as the source of human pride and happiness as well as a means to change man’s living condition from desperation to prosperity. Much of the research on the novel is carried out from realistic perspective, emphasizing its realistic writing skills and the protagonist from humble origin rather than noble one.In the author’s understanding, background plays a significant role in shaping hero’s minds and spirits. We can gain another totally new understanding from his seemingly simple adventure if historical, cultural and political factors all have been taken into consideration under Post-colonial perspective. Actually, after nurtured by European civilization, Robinson has grown into not merely an adventurer, but a bourgeois colonist meanwhile his adventure abroad symbolises an imperialist’s oversea colonial expansion and conquest.Robinson is greatly influenced by philosophy of Enlightenment and Christian believes. The Enlightenment scholars celebrate reason or nationality, equality and science. They also believe that human beings are limited, dualistic and imperfect. Only through universal education could they obtain perfectness. In his days on the island, on one hand, Robinson relied on his talent and hard work to improve his living condition; on the other hand, he established the desolate island as his kingdom and made Friday the slave and servant. He taught Friday the English language and Christianize the cannibals, trying to cultivate the cannibals with European advanced civilization. Robinson believed in self-reliance and hard work. To work, to economize and to accumulate wealth constituted the whole meaning of his life on the island. Cultural hegemony, colonial expansion and economic invasion could be involved in Robinson’s adventure there. Meanwhile, Robinson’s success eventually is at the cost of nature. From the conquest of nature, we can trace back to the Bible as religious root for ecological crisis nowadays and the advanced scientific technology serves as the social root. In the thesis, the author combines colonist’s occupation of the land, domination of the local people and their spirit together with the conquest of nature. Only in this way, the colonialism hidden in the adventure can be better revealed.
Key words: Robinson Crusoe; Post-colonial Perspective; Colonization; Conquest of Nature;

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