The Island in The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe

In both Robinson Crusoe and The Tempest, the islands that the characters are stranded on or native to create a very interesting dynamic that includes slavery, colonialism, striving for order, a thirst to rule the island, and an overall superiority complex.

 

In the Tempest, Prospero takes over the island despite the fact the Caliban was already there. Prospero views Caliban as an inferior savage which is common in many real life conquests of already occupied lands. Robinson Crusoe has this same idea about the cannibalistic natives that are on the island he is marooned on. Robinson is not as cruel to his slave Friday as Prospero is to Caliban, but Robinson works on assimilating Friday and completely disregards Friday’s previous name, language, and religion. Crusoe is slightly more ethnocentric, but overall he treats Friday as a companion which differs greatly from how Prospero treats Caliban.

 

Another theme that involves the island in both stories is that both Prospero and Crusoe want to rule the island and create a sense of hierarchy and order that was not originally present. In both the Tempest and Robinson Crusoe, there are already people living on the island, yet both Crusoe and Prospero feel entitled to rule the island. This shows the attitude of European colonists at the time. They felt they had more rights to rule than the native people because the natives of these lands were not as “human.” In the Tempest, even Stephano wants to completely take over the island and be the “king” of the island. Even when the captain comes to the island that Crusoe is on, he refers to Crusoe as the governor of the island as opposed to the natives. These examples of European men feeling entitled to rule the island they are stranded on is very ethnocentric and this complex is very evident in both The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Island in The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe

  1. looloo14

    Robinson Crusoe and Prospero of The Tempest definitely act as though they are entitled to rule the island in which they live. Crusoe refers to the island as his “little kingdom,” which may come from his view that he is superior to any others who are on the island. However, in addition to this, I think that Crusoe’s apparent ownership of the island stems from a will to survive. Unlike in The Tempest, Robinson Crusoe explains in great detail what Crusoe must do to live. Where he gets his food from, how he makes shelter and the like are all explained in great detail. I think the order Crusoe strives to create on the island is due partially to the great efforts he must make every day to live. He must, for example, cultivate a garden and domesticate goats for their milk. This aspect of his perceived need for to rule the island seems to be necessary for his continued existence.

  2. I totally agree with you. Crusoe’s longing to survive while on the island correlates with his superiority he feels he has while on the island. By calling the island “his little kingdom”, I believe this helped him to feel more at home while being on there. His decision to build a fence is what really caught my attention. Not only is he looking for ways to survive, but he is also looking to adjust his living conditions also in orderto adapt isself to his current environment while being on the island. With all this in mind and his strategy he has to survive, he uses it and ends up surviving on the island for a total of 28 years. I wonder how much of a difference in time he would’ve survived on the island if he had not came up with these survival techniques or had in his mind that the island was his “home”?

  3. I completely agree! I really like that you talked about two of the main themes in each of these books that we have read so far.
    While Crusoe does act a little more civil to Friday than Prospero did to Caliban, I think Crusoe is more racist than we think. He wanted a companion on the island so badly, I think he just seized the opportunity at hand and tried to make Friday into a person that he maybe would have talked to back home. Of course, this involved completely trying to change who he was by the way he dressed, his religious views, and especially his diet. While Crusoe is nicer in the end to Friday than Prospero was to Caliban, Crusoe was still plenty racist and ethnocentric to make his motives a little unjust.
    I think that human nature is to give order to something that does not have order to it, such as the islands in these books. This is clearly observed in both of these books, and I like how you pointed this out, and especially how this was actually happening at the time the book was being written.

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