An Essay On Robinson Crusoe And Foe — страница 2
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to believe that Robinson Crusoe could have been written with no undertones of satire or critical observation. In terms of Friday and his role on the island I think that Defoe is very clever in his use of his character. Friday is portrayed as an intelligent, deep thinker. He learns language quickly and in depth, so much so that he enters in to discussions involving subjects far removed from his situation. In his discussions with Crusoe he comes out with arguments that are thought provoking and intelligent. He calls in to question many things that Crusoe has taken for granted in terms of religion for example the relationship between the devil and God (p 220.). It is not only in intellect that he is seen to as good if not better than Crusoe; in battle and fighting Friday excels himself, much to Crusoe’s surprise. “Friday took his aim so much better than I did…” This portrayal of a Negro, in the time that Defoe was writing, was unheard of as at this point in history coloured people were being used as slaves: “slavery became of major economic importance after the 16th century” (Speake 1999.) This means that what Defoe was writing, to the contemporary audience was extremely controversial. He therefor disguises Friday’s triumphs by listing what Friday’s actions were and not allowing Cruse to comment on his skills in a preferential way. Defoe’s writing style is factual and, within this novel certainly, does not contain a lot of emotion. In fact in the times that this was written even commenting on Friday’s successes was controversial but by distancing the character of Crusoe from this controversy still allowed the contemporary audience to relate to the narrator. Defoe’s use of the cannibals can also be interpreted as a subtle and clever, but highly acute and sharp, comment on the society that he lived in. Cannibalism, the eating of another man’s flesh for the nutritional gain of the individual, can be interpreted as a comment on the imperial civilization the Defoe was living in. He was often to write about the cost of imperial civilization “feeding off” other places. (Mckeon) An imperial civilization has a dependency on slavery, violence and death to expand. Indeed the irony that Crusoe retches when he is presented with the idea that he should eat man’s flesh when he himself was on a voyage to feed of another nation, in the enslavement of coloured me, to further himself in a monetary sense. Coetzee was writing in a very different time and this is reflected in his treatment of the characters of Friday and Susan Barton. Coetzee was born in 1940 in South Africa and was an exile writer. Friday’s silences are as important in Foe as his speeches in Robinson Crusoe. The silences that fall speak volumes of Friday’s enslavement and mutilation and it is these that make him an important character in this novel. Susan Barton often can be seen to be speaking for Friday and putting words into his mouth and his head. She projects the feelings that she feels, and the conversations that she thinks, Friday should have. This is exploring an idea that when examining race issues is of paramount importance; does a white person have the right to speak for a black man who is silenced? Is this not just the white man second-guessing what the coloured man feels when in truth he should be allowed to speak for himself? These are important issues that are raised by Coetzee in this novel, ideas that were not considered in the time that Defoe was writing. It is possible to see Foe as a more realistic version of Robinson Crusoe, portraying the “truth” behind the story. As it appears to me that Friday is more likely to react to his change in surroundings as in Foe that in Robinson Crusoe. This, however is a 21st century view and in the 16th century the story did not need to be particularly realistic as long as the audience could relate to it in fact Defoe himself might not know how Friday would react. The character of Friday can therefor be seen to reflect the time that the respective novel was written in. Both versions of this character were as thought provoking and controversial as each other for the time that they were written. They both reflect the attitudes and opinions of the novelists themselves. The idea of speaking or not speaking is of paramount importance when looking at these novels, as both states deal delicately with an issue which has been of importance for centuries; the treatment and “voice” of the coloured people throughout history. Bibliography J. M. Coetzee “Foe”. Penguin Publishing. (1986) Defoe D.Robinson Crusoe. Penguin Publishing. (1985) Ross A. intro to Robinson Crusoe.Penguin Publishing (1965) Shinagel M.
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