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Two of the more engaging books of the Romantic Era, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Jonathan Swifts Gulliver's Travels, are very similar. Both describe heros travels to the strange places and adventures among outlandish peoples. They both reflect the literary need of the time to, at least on the surface, based on true accounts. The initial plot is within the realm of possibility and then treads lightly into a land of imagination. Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe, both are portrayed as resembling trained soldiers, being capable of clear thought during tense and troubled times.
This quality possessed within Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver is a result of the authors background and knowledge. Daniel Defoe was knowledgeable and proficient in seamanship. He understood the workings of a ship and the skills required for its operation. Daniel Defoe, an intelligent man who is knowledgeable in self defense and military tactics, which is reflected in the actions of Robinson Crusoe who insists on always one step ahead of his opponent, whether it be an enemy, nature or himself. Robinson Crusoe is the know all, does all type of person. He becomes stranded on a remote island and does whatever is necessary to survive.
After being on the island for several years Crusoe learns to adapt to his surroundings, an important feature in becoming a good soldier; and lives with what he has. In the 17 th century, the Catholic reform was sweeping through many parts of Europe. The period from 1600 to about 1750 is known as the Baroque Era. Robinson Crusoe was published during the Baroque Era.
Crusoe becomes a good Christian during his lonely stay on the deserted island and converts his companion Friday when he arrives on the island from cannibalism to Christianity. Crusoe has been placed on this barren island as a punishment for his sins, disobeying his father and for leaving his middle station of life. Being lonely, home stricken and afraid has allowed Robinson Crusoe to fill his desire for company by allowing God into his life through his nightly readings of the Bible. Defoe is a strong believer in God.
He believes that Gods providence shapes the lives of all men and that any unusual circumstances or misfortunes that occur happen because that is the way God wanted it. The psychological condition of Robinson Crusoe was not totally imagined by Daniel Defoe. Defoe was not a stranger to the life of solitude. In the early 18 th century, Defoe was imprisoned for about six months. He was thrown in jail because of a controversial pamphlet that he wrote called The shortest Was With Dissenters. In this pamphlet Defoe humorously implied that all people who were not members of the Church of England should be killed.
This imprisonment may have given Defoe several inklings of what it is like to be totally cut off from civilization. Robinson Crusoe survives on his island and adapts very well to his surroundings, but his companionship with God is not enough. In desperation he trains a parrot to speak to him just to hear another voice, even though the irony is that, the voice is just a repetition of his own. Years later he discovers a footprint on the beach and totally flips his lid. He becomes terribly paranoid and very careful. Crusoe covers any tracks that would give the owner of the foot print an idea that he lives on the island.
Crusoe becomes totally enraged with the thought of another human on the island that he prepares his house for war by surrounding it by an impenetrable fence, arming all his weapons and is ready to kill anyone that comes near his sacred home, grain, and animals. His condition is now evident: the strengths of his character that has made him flourish in isolation has now distorted all his social instincts and civilized manners. He only feels comfortable with himself, his animals, and the Lord in which he can trust. Crusoe lives in fear of the footprint for the next couple of years. Crusoe has become confused, at first he dreams for someone to come and save him, then he feels that someone may destroy him. He has been isolated form civilization for more than 15 years and it has driven him to the point of uncertainty, paranoia and slight lunacy.
During the stay on the island, Robinson Crusoe became an architect, a carpenter, a baker, a tailor, a farmer, an umbrella maker, a preacher and even a man. But most important he learnt to respect fate. Swift, a wise and educated man, cleverly gains the readers respect during the progression of the novel. The first thought the reader has is that Swift does not even take Gulliver very seriously. For instance, his name sounds much like gullible, which suggests that he will believe in anything. Gulliver, an ordinary, good man, not rich and the son of a small country holder poses the drive for adventure and the quality of a mentally sound individual.
In Lilliput, he shows himself to be good-natured and gentle with the tiny people. Gulliver assists in the war against Blefuscu by not injuring his enemies. But deprives them of their weapons, which inflict damage. By doing so he immediately shows his noble generosity and respect for the liberty of others by refusing to enslave the Blefuscudians. Being treated poorly by the Lilliputians, Gulliver has two choices, i. e.
to f 0 lee, to kill his enemy. To his credit, he does not seriously consider killing his enemy, but rather flees. Gulliver has won the confidence of the reader as being trustworthy, a man of integrity, uprightness, sound judgement, and humanity. The shift in surroundings allows Gulliver's mental state to change form one extreme another, which begins in Brodingnagian where he is subjected to constant humiliations in the land of the giants and develops defenses for his self-esteem. He boasts what he would have done to the monkeys if he had thought of using his sword; he brags to the court ladies about the seamanship he possesses. But it is the sharp-witted, keen eyed Brodingnagian king who puts Gulliver on the defensive and the effects on Gulliver are worth noticing.
He becomes uncomfortable and begins to shuffle and lie his way out of intense situations allowing one to see him as being much less then we had taken him to be. This change in Gulliver has destroyed and distorted ones trust in his judgement and honesty. One must then henceforth weigh his accomplishments very carefully. Gulliver is a changing dynamic character.
In the second chapter came his recognition that the Yahoo is the perfect human figure, but by the fifth chapter, Gulliver struggles with the fact of seeing himself as a Yahoo, which depicts the foul, ugly, obscene and stupid part of man. As Gulliver returns to the land of men, it clearly emerges that he is seriously unhinged and a thoroughly changed character. He suffers from what the Greeks called hybris, and arrogant pride characterized by a man stepping out of his proper place in the world. Traditionally a hybris is quickly followed by death or other serious punishment. Instead of the good-natured Gulliver, there is one whose ill-nature flourishes. Instead of the patriotic Englishman, there is one who detests the thought of England.
The events Gulliver experienced changed his views. He posses the ability to see the poor humanities of man kind. Man kind is not superior, we have many great faults which are summed up in a single quote. I am not the least provoked and the sight of a lawyer, a pickpocket, a colonel, a fool, a lord, a gambler, a politician, a whore monger, a physician, an evidence, a suborner, an attorney, a traitor, or the like: this is all according to the due course of things: but when I behold a lump of deformity and diseases, both in body and mind, smitten with pride, it immediately breaks all the measures of my patience; neither shall I be ever able to comprehend how such an animal and such a vice could tally together. Both Gulliver and Robinson are changing characters. At first they could not see the hidden details of life.
But through solitude, trauma, conquest and failure have allowed both characters to realize the achievements, failures, and stupidity of man kind. Being able to rationalize from experience and calculation is a quality of a soldier. 1 1. Swifts Gulliver's Travel, Chapter 12, Part 4, Pg. 315 BIBLIOGRAPHY Gulliver's Travel, Jonathan Swift, 1726 Gulliver's Travel, Swift, Coles Notes, 1920 Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, 1719 web web web web
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