ENGB35 Jan 16, 2013
Honour the wisdom of Providence
o God abandoned Crusoe on the island for a reason
Educational learning for children through the book
Rousseau: handbook of natural education
o Crusoe surviving in the wild and making things out of natural materials
Middle Class/Materialist ICR
o Crusoe‟s interest of constantly making his fortune
Parable of middle class
o Hard-working, interested in property, wanting to make money
While Colonialist ICR
Parable of British colonialist
o Creating a colony from land that had originally belonged to a native people
Parable of natural labour and alienation
o Creating shelter etc.; alone on the island
The Materialist Reading
The book was an economic narrative: spiritual and financial.
Spiritual because Crusoe did eventually show how he‟d come back to God, after
o The book did move away from Puritan ideas a bit: had it been a true
religious novel, Crusoe would have died once he‟d found God.
Financial because of Crusoe‟s goal of gaining more wealth
Demonstrated Middle-Class Parable
Labour: Crusoe was always at work. (The devil finds work for idle hands.) ENGB35 Jan 16, 2013
Innovation: Crusoe making all of his items
Does not give up
Emphasis on use: Crusoe found ways to integrate objects and re-use.
Things that make life bearable, the naturalization of civilization: Crusoe making a
home and a farm.
Frugality/looking towards future: saving objects, reusing; always expecting to get
Individualist: doesn‟t mind being on his own
o No real social ties except Friday
Emphasis on ownership: „my island‟
Property (continued middle-class)
“I descended a little on the side of that delicious vale, surveying it with a secret kind of
pleasure (though mixed with my other afflicting thoughts) to think that this was all my
own, that I was king and lord of all this country indefeasibly, and had a right of
possession; and if could convey it, I might have it in inheritance as completely as any
lord of a manor in England.”
Standing on hill and overlooking property is an eighteenth century theme
Again, the idea of „this is mine‟. A very middle-class attitude, where ownership
determined your status.
This is the Lockean idea of ownership: in order to own land, you must work it.
o God “gave [the world] to the use of the industrious and rational (and labour
was to be his title to it), not to the fancy or covetousness of the
quarrelsome and contentious.” “There cannot be a clearer demonstration
of any thing, than several Nations of the Americans are of this, who are
rich in Land, and poor in all the Comforts of Life; whom Nature having
furnished as liberally as any other people, with the materials of Plenty, i.e.
a fruitful Soil, apt to produce in abundance, what might serve for food,
rayment, and delight; yet for want of improving it by labour, have not one
hundredth part of the Conveniences we enjoy: And a King of a large and
fruitful Territory there feeds, lodges, and is clad worse than a day
Labourer in England.” (John Locke, Two Treatises of Government)
This is what colonialists use to support their taking of land from the
natives because they had not worked it to their standards.
I am monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute; ENGB35 Jan 16, 2013
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
(William Cowper, “Verses Supposed to be Written by Alexander Selkirk during his
Solitary Abode on the Island of Juan Fernandez” 1782)
The island is really nothing to have ownership; there‟s no real proof of owning it.
Middle class values: make money, have a big house, join the next class in society, and
pass it on to your descendants.
Ladder of ascension
Crusoe‟s fences: property breeds paranoia
He builds the fences in order to stop people from stealing, even though there is
really no one there to steal from him.
Marxian economics: natural labour and alienation
commodification (exchange value)
division of labour
o Working the land