Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe: a Spiritual Biography

Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe: a Spiritual Bio

Anna Katherine Kerlin English 254, Section 008 Mrs. Patty Ireland January 30, 2013 Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe: A Spiritual Bio In the seventeenth century, a form of composing became the idea of religious beliefs started to alter. Many writers used “spiritual autobiographies” when writing nonfiction pieces. Spiritual autobiographies and later on, biographies, were particularly popular due to the fact that of the focus on the Bible in the late 1600s. The principle of spiritual autobiographies and bios continued well into the 1700s when Daniel Defoe was making his debut in fiction books with Robinson Crusoe.

Critics explained Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe as a “spiritual journey.” J. Paul Hunter declared that Defoe took a spiritual bio method when crafting Robinson Crusoe by “tracing a rebellion-punishment-repentance-deliverance series” (Hunter, 252). Daniel Defoe composed Robinson Crusoe utilizing a spiritual biography method, which ultimately leads the reader to spiritually follow the experiences of Crusoe. The first part of a spiritual biography consists of the lead character experiencing a situation of disobedience or sin. In Robinson Crusoe, the act of rebellion is introduced really early in the book.

Although Crusoe’s parents do not agree, he dreams of living a life at sea. His father describes, “that if [he] take this foolish action, God would not bless [him] (Defoe, 6). Crusoe, understanding that he is rebelling versus both his moms and dads and God, embarks on his journey in September 1651. It is clear that Crusoe acknowledges that he is breaking his parents and God when he claims, “without asking God’s blessing, or my daddy’s, without any factor to consider of situations or effects, and in an hour, God knows, on the first of September 1651 I went on board a ship bound London” (7 ).

Although he knows he is rebelling, he continues to embark on his journey at sea. Defoe has actually established the first piece of developing a spiritual biography by introducing the idea of rebellion. It is not till many years later on in Robinson Crusoe when Defoe presents the punishment for Crusoe’s actions. Although Crusoe experiences difficulties during his journey, such as coming across wild beasts and becoming a servant, he is ultimately struck with his penalty when he is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Crusoe finds himself stranded on a remote island alone.

Crusoe’s very first reaction is negativity and self-pity. Crusoe “consider [s] the next day what death [he] must die” (36 ). Later on when Crusoe takes up journaling he writes, “I bad Robinson Crusoe, being shipwrecked throughout an awful storm, in the offing, began shore on this dismal regrettable island, which I called the Island of Despair” (52 ). Crusoe is experiencing a time of self-pity, in which he does not accept his situation of being stranded. At one point throughout the book, Crusoe attempts to understand why he is stranded.

Crusoe speaks aloud, asking himself, “Why were not they saved and you lost? Why were you singled out” (47 )? Although Crusoe is showing and considering on his circumstance, he is continuing with his negative attitude and not seeing the positivity in his offered scenario. It is clear that Defoe continues to establish a spiritual biography by requiring Crusoe to be penalized and to experience the repercussions of his rebellion. It is not till Crusoe begins to think about God and his religion when he reaches a sense of positivity.

Throughout this time, Defoe begins to introduce the idea of repentance into Crusoe’s journey. Although Crusoe reaches a point of repentance, it takes time for him to build a relationship with God initially. Crusoe’s very first encounter with God seeks he finds that the seeds have grown food for him. Crusoe shows, “God ha [s] miraculously caused this grain to grow” (58 ). Defoe permits Crusoe to begin a relationship with God. Like any relationship, it requires time to end up being comfortable with each other and this describes why Crusoe sometimes looses his sense of faith.

For instance, throughout the earthquake that interrupted the island and Crusoe’s shelter, Crusoe was lost at words to talk to God. He confessed, “all the while I had not the least major spiritual thought, nothing but the typical, Lord, ha [ve] grace upon me, and when it was over, that disappeared too” (60 ). Although Crusoe turns to God during this time, he is not genuine with his praying and his faith eases off with the earthquake. It is not until Crusoe becomes very ill that his faith and relationship with God take a turn for the better.

Once again, Crusoe admits that he does not understand how to pray as he claims, “I was so oblivious, that I knew not what to state; just I lay and sobbed, Lord look upon me, Lord pity me, Lord have grace upon me” (64 ). Crusoe is starting to construct a more powerful relationship with God as he admits he may not understand what to state, however he knows he should hope. Although Crusoe’s relationship with God is not yet perfected, his new sense of religious beliefs leads him to live a more positive way of life while on the island. Crusoe’s journey and relationship with God changes significantly when he finally understands he is being penalized and starts to request for repentance.

Defoe allows Crusoe to confess his flaws in his life and with this has the ability to continue his spiritual journey. Crusoe confesses, “I have actually never ever had even one thought of it being the hand of God, or that it was just punishment for my sin, my defiant habits against my daddy (65 ). Crusoe has actually lastly acknowledged and confessed that God is penalizing him for his rebellion. Now that Crusoe has come to terms with this he can begin to totally repent and live a life for God. After this awareness Crusoe hoped, “Lord be my assistance, for I remain in great distress” (67 ).

It is clear that Crusoe is altering the way he sees God and prayer. Not only does he understand that God is penalizing him, but Crusoe likewise recognizes that he needs to glorify God in order to be provided from evil. Crusoe questions himself, “God had delivered me, but I had not glorified him” (70 ). With this insight Crusoe starts to change how he lives his daily life. Crusoe starts to utilize the Bible as a way to build a closer relationship with God. Crusoe states, “in the morning, I took the Bible, and beginning at the New Testament, I began seriously to read it” (71 ).

Checking out the bible had an impressive effect on Crusoe as he checked out Acts 5:31, which mentions, “He is exalted a Prince and a Hero, to give Repentance, and to offer Remission” (71 ). After checking out these words, Crusoe raised his hands up to God and sobbed, “Jesus, thou Child of David, Jesus, thou honored Prince and Rescuer, provide me repentance” (71 )! After having a hard time on the island for numerous months, Crusoe begins to feel a sense of peace as he asks God for repentance. Crusoe likewise acknowledges that this was the first time he hoped “with a sense of [his] condition, and with a real bible view of hope founded on the encouragement of the word of God” (71 ).

Defoe has actually enabled Crusoe to become mindful of his sin and request repentance. With his newfound self-awareness, Crusoe begins to live a life for God. Defoe allows the reader to feel Crusoe’s different feelings as he establishes his spiritual biography. Defoe has now taken the reader through Crusoe’s rebellion, penalty, and repentance. To get the qualities of a real spiritual biography, Crusoe will need to be provided from his circumstance. At this moment in the novel, Crusoe is still living a life of repentance and continuing his relationship with God.

Although Crusoe’s story is not yet total, his life is currently improving in many ways. For example, Crusoe admits he can be happy while stranded on the island in which he named the Island of Misery only a few short years prior to. Crusoe shows, “that it was possible for me to be more delighted in this abandoned solitary condition, than it was possible I must ever have actually remained in any other specific state worldwide; and with this idea I was going to offer thanks to God for bringing me to this place” (83 ).

Crusoe now acquaints his happiness with his relationship with God. He lastly feels happy about what has happened his life. As Defoe continues to develop Crusoe’s story, Crusoe has the ability to discover joy and feel a sense of enhancement because of his relationship with God. According to J. Paul Hunter in his criticism on Defoe’s writing, Robinson Crusoe “follows sequential lines,” which ultimately attributes to the development of a spiritual biography (Hunter, 252).

Hunter explains, “occasions in Robinson Crusoe are verified relative to the total pattern of a person’s life, and the occasions are ‘enhanced’ properly in order to draw the reader himself to an unique view of religion and to an individual practice of higher morality” (Hunter, 252). Hunter describes that Defoe’s spiritual biography about Crusoe’s rebellion, penalty, repentance, and hopefully deliverance permit readers to look into their spirituality too. As Crusoe finds his relationship with God, readers are challenged to do the same.

Eventually, Defoe’s usage of a spiritual bio gives the readers a sense of faith as they take a trip with Crusoe on his spiritual journey. Works Cited Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe: A Reliable Text, Contexts, Criticism. Ed. Michael Shinagel. New York City: Norton, 1994. Print. Hunter, J. Paul. “Spiritual Biography.” 1994. The Unwilling Pilgram. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 1966. 88-92. Print. Sim, Stuart. “Spiritual autobiography”. The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 January 2001? [http://www. litencyc. com/php/stopics. php? rec=real&& UID=1377, accessed 28 January 2013.]

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