“The Island” as a Means for Separation and Reflection

The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe share the idea that “the island” is a means of separation; whether by choice or by force.  In The Tempest, Sycorax is an obvious result of being brought to the island by force.  She committed adultery which (to say the least) was looked down upon, and was brought to the island to be completely removed from society, in hopes of repentance for her obvious sin.  In Robinson Crusoe, he is brought to the island by a “divine providence” so Crusoe can and will perhaps repent of the sinful life he has led so far.  The deserted island in both situations serves the purpose (among many others) for inner reflection and changing for the better.

 

At first, Robinson Crusoe is confused and upset as to why he was brought to the island.  Upon further thought about what he possibly could have done to deserve being put on such an awful place, he suddenly comes to the realization that God had placed him on that island for a reason.  At a specific moment in the book, soon after Crusoe has overcome a terrible sickness, he realizes and says, “So void was I of every thing that was good, or of the least sense of what I was, or was to be, that in the greatest deliverances I enjoy’d, such as…” (Defoe 96).  Crusoe goes on to say in the rest of this quote that there were many instances in his life that God helped him out of alive such as his escaping from Sallee.  In the quote above, Crusoe is dumbfounded that no matter how many times God saved his life, Crusoe never once thanked or praised God which was very upsetting to Crusoe.  Another quote of Crusoe’s says how his life was “…perfectly destitute of the knowledge and fear of God.”  (Defoe, 95).  Crusoe is again confirming of how much his life was in disrepair and that being placed on the (seemingly) deserted island is what he needed to realize just how much he had to thank God for.

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3 responses to ““The Island” as a Means for Separation and Reflection

  1. I completely agree with your post and would like to expound upon it by adding that the main characters in both texts come to some sort of spiritual awakening or discovery of self. Prospero at the end of the play comes to realize that revenge is not the best option and forgives everyone. Crusoe on the other hand, finds God on the island and repents for his past sinful way of living. In fact it could be argued that if Crusoe had not landed on the island he may never have found God at all- perhaps he needed to be completely removed from the world and all forms of temptation before he could find peace in his soul. It is when the main characters are stranded on the island that they are the most dynamic and experience the most personal growth.

  2. I liked that you analyzed the idea of the island as both a means of separation and as one of reflection, because it truly does serve both of those purposes. Although on an island you are truly separated from society, it gives you the opportunity to become closer to yourself than ever before. I think it was important that you mentioned, a “changing for the better”, this allowed for a positive reflection on the experience. The island does give Crusoe the opportunity to repent and search for God, a task he repeatedly does. This experience allows Crusoe to grow as a man and cultivates his relationship with God. Crusoe is thankful for this relationship and the chance to express his gratitude.

  3. You raise an intriguing point about Crusoe. He has to come to an island–outside of “civilization”–in order to have inner peace. Yet once on the island, Crusoe actually begins to recreate the “inside,” i.e., civilization.

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