Robinson Crusoe and the Robinsonade paying specific attention to ‘The Female American’
? Robinson Crusoe and the Robinsonade paying specific attention to ‘The Female American’ There are couple of literary works that have made such an impact and stayed popular for so long as Robinson Crusoe. The very first imitation of the novel was published simply months after the originals release. Jean-Jacques Rousseau remarks in her book Emile “Robinson Crusoe on his island, alone, denied of the support of his fellow guy and of all synthetic aids, yet offering his own subsistence, for his own security, and even achieving a sort of wellness, there is a matter of interest for any age. 1Carl Fisher composes in his book “Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s remarks in Emile on the excellent education that the novel provides generated an even higher number of adaptions. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of literary texts find their original idea in Defoe’s book. “2 A standard meaning of the robinsonade genre would be a plot that emulates the story of a castaway stranded on an island battling for survival. Writers knew that Defoe had created a work of art and they attempted to recreate that success for themselves some proving very successful such as Lord of the Flies.
Robinsonades tend to alter the physical aspects of the story such as the natives of the island, what resources are readily available, how they wound up on the island and how the reintroduce themselves to society. Authors would mould their take on the story usually based on their target audience or to identify their own variation from the initial. It is easy to trace the advancement of the robinsonade category through history as each version can be related to the context of that time period. I will now look at a specific robinsonade book which I think to be a very intriguing contrast with Robinson Crusoe.
The novel I have actually studied is The Female American. Composed in 1767 it is the story of Unca Eliza Winkfield, an American-Indian Woman, who becomes stranded on an island. It is an example of what Professor Jeannine Blackwell has actually called the “female robinsonade. “3 There were quite a number of “female robinsonades” composed around this time duration. Sixteen female castaways appeared in German literature, 3 French, three Dutch, three British and at least one American. 4 The reason I choose this book is that it comes across numerous essential concerns concerning that time period.
The 2 I have chosen to look at are gender and religious beliefs. These 2 themes will be the primary focus points of my relative. I think an important location to begin is by studying gender in the book. A concern that struck me immediately was the gender of the storyteller. Naturally as the book was anonymously written it is impossible for us to be sure however we can take a look at the writing design carefully and try to identify it for ourselves. Janet Todd commented in her book on gender in the eighteenth century, “Prose and poetry were thought about securely gendered, and sensitive readers might immediately inform the sex of the author.
A female writer was expected not merely to express her sex however also to call attention to her womanhood, her special and sensitivity. “5 I still discovered it tough to decide whether it was a male or female author. Also it wasn’t unusual for a male author to use female lead characters in their books. Significant examples would consist of Roxana and Moll Flanders. Novak and Fisher tried to figure out the significance of “female analysis” in their studies. They took a look at reasons other critics have given on why “a male author may compose through a female voice. 6 Madeline Kahn suggested “female analysis” as “an integral part of the emerging books … examination of how an individual produces an identity”7 Kahn’s point in specific resonates deeply with the Female American. We see how Winkfield tries to establish herself on the island and successfully integrate herself into the lives of the local individuals. We can see evidence of this in Defoe’s Roxana and Moll Flanders as well. When we compare the subject of gender in the Female American to Robinson Crusoe we find that numerous indications of masculinity revealed by Crusoe are over looked because of the significance of other themes.
Bearing this in mind it is really interesting when comparing how Winkfield and Crusoe deal with comparable circumstances in various ways. An important aspect which makes a castaway story so amusing is seeing how a normal person acts when plucked from society and isolated on a desert island. Comparing how each of the storytellers act provides us an important insight on gender roles in these novels. Both lead characters tend to follow their gender associated norms. Crusoe can be seen to be more physically active than Winkfield as we can see when he constructs his own encampment and commences making a farm.
Winkfield does not alter her surroundings as much as Crusoe however she does alter the nature of the locals by transforming them to Christianity. She can likewise be seen to be more composed and patient than Crusoe. We can see from his journal that his days are busy from farming to developing while Winkfield can sit and observe a weird animal for a number of hours. Crusoe likewise sees himself as the owner of the island while Winkfield sees herself as part of a community. Crusoe keeps goats locked up while Winkfield draws them to her house to be milked. This leads on to their different views on violence.
This is maybe the most outright gender norm. Winkfield tries to avoid violence in all situations unless definitely necessary while Crusoe does not avoid it at all. In one sense he almost enjoys it. He fantasises about killing cannibals and performs in truth kill some later. As the Female American advances we see that Winkfield is undoubtedly forced to kill goats for food. On the basis of what we have actually taken a look at I believe it is fair to presume that the Female American is more fit towards a female audience however the need to survive enables the author to represent Winkfield’s unladylike behaviour in a more beneficial light. There are a couple of exceptions to the standard behaviour we associate with males and females. In these books. Crusoe tends to be more domestic than Winkfield. He does more farming while she goes into the woods and finds her own food. Winkfield tends to travel a lot more than Crusoe. Crusoe ends up being accustomed to his ‘home’ and remains there for long periods. She can also be braver than Crusoe. In events such as Earthquakes she keeps her cool and does not worry unlike Crusoe. As we currently understand religious beliefs is a major element of Robinson Crusoe. I was intrigued whether it would have as much an effect on Winkfield as it did on Crusoe.
However a crucial distinction between the 2 books is that Winkfield is currently a Christian when she gets here on the island. An interesting thing to compare despite this is how both Crusoe and Winkfield method transforming the natives to Christianity. As we know Winkfield is of both American and Indian heritage. This suggests she would have been familiar with both Christian and pagan beliefs when she was growing up. We can see indications of both beliefs at various situations. When she lives with the colonial settlers and when she is in England she is certainly Christian. She is raised by her dad and uncle, both strong Christian’s, ho would have taught her how to act like a Christian. Her religious identity is safe because her pagan heritage is not given a chance to surface. Nevertheless when she is on the island this is not the case. There is no Christian existence to keep her pagan side in check. As she comes across the signs of the Indian religious beliefs pagan concepts begin to change Christian ones. This can be seen completely effect when she initially stumbles across the temple and the idol. She neglects the truth that this idol represents a pagan god and instead concentrates on the riches she discovers inside it.
These materialistic views are starting to suppress her Christian ones. When a terrible storm comes her first thought when it has diminished is whether the idol has actually endured it. She “shivered for the statue of the sun, though I understood not why; for what it was to I whether it stood or fell? As soon as I came near enough, I saw it was safe; and was far from being displeased that it was so. “9 This causes the scene where we see Winkfield preparing for the natives to land on the island. She is meaning on utilizing the idol to transform the natives.
She isn’t optimistic about the natives accepting God as the only holy one but rather that they will bow to her too as their guide in the Christian methods. She states that she “pictured hundreds of Indians prostrate before me. “10 This in such a way can be related to Robinson Crusoe in the way Crusoe converts Friday and pays no regard for his previous beliefs. He requires him to call him “master” and advises him how to act like a Christian. As the Female American establishes we see that Winkfield doesn’t become the “master” of the natives but instead just instructs them in the Christian ways and let them reveal their belief as they see fit.
The reason I choose gender and religious beliefs as my basis for my essay is because I believe that they are extremely important in the context of eighteenth-century writing. Any book written in that time duration will have some relation to gender or religious beliefs. After studying the Female American it has actually given me an additional insight into Robinson Crusoe specifically with regards to gender. When studying Robinson Crusoe by itself the theme of masculinity tends to be ignored and I found it extremely interesting to take a look at especially in comparison to a female robinsonade and to compare the differences and resemblances between a male protagonist and a female one.
Bibliography Novak and Fisher, ‘Approaches to teaching Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe’ (New York City, MLA) 2005 Tevlin, Cherly, E. ‘The Duality of Unca’s Identity: Making use of the Idol in Colonial and Religious Subjugation’ (Gettysburg University) 2012 Todd, Janet. ‘The sign of Angellica: Women, Composing and Fiction, 1660-1800’ (New York, Columbia UP) 1989 Winkfield, Unca Eliza. ‘The Female American’. Ed. Michelle Burnham. (Toronto: Broadview Literary Texts) 2001