Robinson Crusoe Analysis
Man has ever since acquiring the capacity of reflective thinking always thought on his place in the Universe, about the existence of God, and his relationship with God. It is the evergreen question uppermost in the minds of most people since time immemorial because as what one philosopher famously said, if God did not exist yet, then Man has to invent God. It is a very profound statement in the sense Man has always struggled with the meaning of his own existence and within the bigger scheme of things, the meaning of life itself. Why bother to go through all the trials and tribulations in Life unless there is something that awaits Man at the end, the afterlife almost everyone (excepting the agnostics and the atheists) believes exists because it is what gives some semblance of sense and meaning to human life. In this regard, it is noteworthy that Divine Providence as used in the brief novel by Daniel Defoe (1661-1731) in “Robinson Crusoe” means the theological doctrine of how God intervenes in the world to see to it all His plans are carried out and fulfilled by exercising his powers of omniscience or knowledge of the future. Man is obviously very short-sighted, limited and constrained in his knowledge and views of the larger things and issues in his own life; he cannot even approximate the power of God to know all there is to know about him, his life, his future, and even his past, his innermost thoughts and unexpressed feelings. So an all-knowing God knows in advance how “Robinson Crusoe journeys in his attitude towards Divine Providence from a rebellion against what he perceives as a disinterested authority early on, to an initial repentance and conversion through the vision-dream, and finally, to an active and mature faith in a loving God, Who protects and guides all things, by the end of his stay on the island.
He was still young at that time and did not fully consider the consequences of his actions. Robinson Crusoe is the youngest son of an Englishman of German descent in the town of York. Earlier, his father advised him to become a lawyer as it will provide him with a steady income and a stable life but he disregarded this and longed for adventure (Defoe 2). He had initially followed his father’s wishes but the lure of going out to sea was a very strong temptation he eventually disobeyed his father (Defoe 6). He embarks on a ship bound for the city of London but got into a storm; he was lucky enough to survive. He merely considered it as a minor setback and so took another that is leaving London for the high seas, towards life as a traveling merchant. However, this second trip was unlucky as he got captured by pirates and sold into slavery but escaped later on (Defoe 23). His religious faith at around this time is not that strong yet; he considered himself lucky and so tended to disregard the role of Divine Providence in saving his life. He went to Brazil with the help of a kind Portuguese sea captain (Defoe 32) where he bought land to own plantations and in the process got relatively rich. This was evident after he experienced a vision-dream (or suffered a hallucination) when he thought he was visited by an angel who warned him to repent (Defoe 88). He had embarked earlier on another trip to buy or procure slaves for his plantation but this trip was worse as he got shipwrecked on an island near Trinidad where he was the sole survivor and where he spent the next twenty-eight years of his life (Defoe 46). He by this time had been through a lot of suffering and his long isolation from humanity allowed him to reconsider his religion in relation to his existence on the island. Prior to this dream, he was quite certain his miseries were the obvious result of his own actions and not the result of a God. He even wondered if there is a God because why would He allow evil to happen? He asked why God “should ruin his creatures . . . and render them so absolutely miserable” (Defoe 62). The vision he suffered was a life-altering event as it changed his religion completely, in particular, his view of Divine Providence from one of arrogance and rejection to the newer and healthier kind of repentance and respect, and then still later on as he matured, to one that is based on love and trust. This new attitude of gratefulness was attained because Crusoe saw Divine Providence had saved his life many times before and yet he did not acknowledge this. Moreover, he now trusted God completely as shown by his action of forgiving the mutineers and allowing some of them to return to the ship to capture the ringleader of the mutiny and let the rest of them go free, a supreme act of believing in God to let him do the rest of the work., and that things will turn out right in the end. He is now more mature in his faith by not being concerned with himself only but also of others, such as teaching his man Friday a few English lessons and in Christian concepts, and his act of saving the English captain from being left on the island or marooned like what happened to him many years earlier. His new-found charity for other people was evidenced by his generous donation to the widow who kept his monies safe over the long years he was absent from England as the sale of his plantation lands in Brazil gave him a considerable fortune such that he could now afford to be charitable.
God works in mysterious ways. Many people may not immediately understand what is happening to them in the first place but as time goes by, Divine Providence will manifest in ways to make people realize there is a God who looks after them. This was the case of Crusoe who went from being defiant and rebellious because he initially did not believe in a caring or loving God because there is evil in the world, to be repentant and grateful for the times he was saved from certain death, and finally, to full acceptance of the glory of God who made it possible for Crusoe to survive such a long period of isolation, made him financially successful in his commercial ventures, and gave him the confidence to re-visit the island years later.
Works Cited Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. London: MacMillan and Company, 1868. Print(a re-print).