Robinson Crusoe: The Prototype of English Colonizer

Robinson Crusoe represents a prototype of a culture, a religion, and an ideology. He is the true Englishman who would love to expand the English territory and its autonomy. He stands for the English imperialism, capitalism and more specifically the colonialism. Robinson left his motherland in quest of fortune which is one of the prime motto of English colonization.

Daniel Defoe

He went to Brazil and owned a plantation still his search of fortune did not last and wanted to expand his business as like that of English colonists. So he went to Africa so as to get slaves who would work for him in the plantation of Brazil. On his way he got shipwrecked and became a sole survivor on a deserted island. There he stood his empire. He made his “home”, a hut which is the base of his whole empire literally. He chased away and killed the savages and proved that he is the true English man who would do anything to set up an empire of own will. As a colonizer he saved Friday, gave him a name, ordered him to not eat other men, taught him his own religion ‘Christianity’, taught him his English language to say ‘master’, ‘yes’, and ‘no’ and as per Robinson, he made him a cultured man. Whenever he described Friday he said ‘Negroes’ which is the indicator of his racist attitude.

While considering the date of its publication, 1719 AD, and its historical background it can be said that the Robinson Crusoe is a racist work. The ethnic groups of that island are frequently shown as barbaric and savages. The relationship of Robinson and his servant Friday serve as an illustration of an allegory for English imperialist who intervened others culture and imposed his own so called high culture upon others. When Friday was saved in the text  it is written that, Friday “laid his head upon the ground, and taking me by the foot, set my foot upon his head” (Defoe 147). This language vividly depicts the actual colonizing mentality of English people where Robinson stands as colonizer and Friday is the symbol of the colonized.

Crusoe does not ask the boy’s name whom he has saved,  but instantly gives him a western name Friday: This is the day when Crusoe saved him.  Robinson has created a new identity for his servant. His own real identity was lost in the shadow and was not taken into consideration. He was named after a thing not a person which clearly shows the dehumanization of ethnic people by the British people. Crusoe wants to impose his western culture, name, language, religion and even the habits on the simple living people of the  island. When Friday wants to dig up corpses and eat them up Robinson appeared very angry and shows his extreme detestation. His fixed mindset does not allow him to think even for a while that it is the custom of native islanders which one should not disregard and hate. Robinson quickly changes his servant’s lifelong habit of eating dead corpes by making him self conscious.

Robinson made clothes for Friday and for the first time Friday felt too difficult in those clothes. He felt very awkward, but later on he took to them very well.  This event serves as an example of stripping Friday of his identity and individualism. It is one of the most prime things that the native should be grateful for whatever they do. For Robinson Friday is happy to look like his master and getting clothes in new ways, but for Friday it is really painful at first. Though Crusoe notices his pain and discomfort caused by the western clothes he does not have any sense of regret for causing it. Friday’s agony was unheard and neglected; another colonial mentality of Robinson Crusoe. Robinson praises himself for converting the savages into civilized people and states that the affection of Friday was tied to him like those of father and son. Robinson here cannot see the depth of reality which is that the relationship of Robinson and Friday was shifting to master and servant.

Robinson uses utterly scornful language to compare the religion of the native and his Christianity. Crusoe describes the natives as “the most blinded ignorant pagans in the world” and further says that their religion is a “fraud”(Defoe 157). Closed minded Robinson explains that their religion offers “knowledge of true God”(Defoe 156). Robinson is reluctant to know about the religion and culture of natives and has no desire to appreciate his tribal beliefs. Friday is frequently referred as “poor savage” and “poor ignorant creature” which ultimately dehumanizes the natives.

Robinson Crusoe’s harsh language, his imposition of the name, habit, culture, religion upon Friday, the complete change in Friday’s life, the mastering skill of Robinson, the setting up of a new empire in the deserted island all shows the colonial process. The title character represents the oppressor, discriminatory colonist and Friday stands for the oppressed, identity-less, suffered slave.