The fact that the European contemporaries of both Shakespeare and Defoe were racist should be a given. Warped views on race, which blended with a warped view on social class, were accepted as general knowledge. However, both Robinson Crusoe and The Tempest make the popular opinion of the time crystal clear: The white man is the master and the savior over the black man no matter what situation they happen to be in.
Prior to his voyages, Crusoe has enjoyed a stable, well-to-do lifestyle. Seafaring may have perhaps made him into a more humble man amongst his peers – that is, the fellow European sailors and ship captains – but once enslaved, he immediately places himself in his mind above the other slaves. He is in the exact same situation as the rest of them, yet he still feels superiority. In fact, Crusoe feels the most indignation about the fact that his captors are Moors and that his father was right more than the fact that he is a slave. He feels insulted that he is left to “do the common drudgery of slaves about his house,” even though he later attains slaves in Xury and Friday to do the exact same (Defoe 115).
Both Prospero and Crusoe take the point of view that because they are “civilized” Christian white men, they have the privilege and even the duty to take control of the natives (or in Prospero’s case, Caliban.) They both sense that slavery of the minority is the natural order of life, even though both men themselves were in a sense enslaved – Prospero’s enslavement being more of a metaphorical enslavement to the island. The only difference between themselves and the people they have in their service is their religion and ancestry; differences which to the conquering Europeans considered the line between civilized and uncivilized and worthy of colonization.