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Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and the Virtues of Protestantism

Robinson Crusoe and the Virtues of Protestantism

Many people have pointed out that Robinson Crusoe’s experiences on the island seem to be a reflection of the growth of civilization and society. Considering the prominent role that religion plays in the novel, it would be worthwhile to examine the progression of religious and political thought in Crusoe’s “society.” Through the experiences of one man, we can observe the progression of religion from the private realm to the public realm, the conflicts inherent in such a progression, and the resolution to these conflicts. This evolution of religious and political thought affirms two ideas: 1) in the personal realm, it affirms religious individualism–the idea that one can and should find his God independently from any human authority or intermediary (i.e. priests); and 2) in the public realm, the novel affirms that religious toleration, especially on the part of those in power, is the appropriate way to resolve those conflicts that are inherent in the transition of religion from the private to the public. Crusoe discovers (primarily through trial and error and constant introspection) both of these ideas and eventually succeeds in implementing both of them. He “finds God” without the guidance of anyone, and he ultimately becomes a tolerant ruler of the island with respect to religion. Surprisingly, Crusoe never lives up to his personal definition of a “good Christian.” But perhaps this is just a touch or realism by Defoe, since Crusoe is otherwise so successful at recognizing religious individualism and instituting religious toleration on the island, both of which are very important to Defoe.

The first step in the religious progression of Crusoe is his personal di…

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…bsolute morality of Christianity, primarily with regard to cannibals and others whom God had apparently chosen to be left in the dark (this question pops up multiple times–142, 151, 168). For in these “questioning” scenes, Crusoe does not exempt Protestantism from critique; he is questioning Christianity in general, and whether or not its hold on truth is real or illusory. It seems to me that Defoe was concerned with religious toleration for more than selfish reasons; he saw religious toleration as a moral responsibility of all Christians, including Catholics and Protestants, and as the only resolution to the conflict between the personal and public realms of religion. So Robinson Crusoe turns out to be just as concerned about toleration in general as it is about the virtues of Protestantism. At least in Robinson Crusoe, Defoe turned out to be fairly open-minded.

A Comparison of A Streetcar Named Desire and The Master Builder

The Comedy and Tragedy of A Streetcar Named Desire and The Master Builder

It has been said that the world is a comedy to those that think, and a tragedy to those who feel. This philosophy is supported by two important literary works, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams and The Master Builder by Henrik Ibsen. In each piece, the sensitive and emotional characters experience tremendous pain, while the cold and unfeeling characters are simply amused by the pain of others.

In A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams shows two characters who have very different experiences of the world. For Stanley Kowalski, the world is a comedy. He constantly causes pain to others, especially Blanche, and then laughs at her pain. For example, he hands Blanche a ticket to Laurel as a birthday present, kicking her out of the house. To Stanley this very cruel and insensitive gesture is amusing, but to Blanche it is a hurtful token of rejection. Blanche is a character who experiences the tragedy of the world, as events affect her deeply. For instance, she can not understand how her sister, Stella, can put up with the abuse that Stanley inflicts upon her. Blanche is very concerned about her sister and becomes extremely dismayed when Stanley hits her. This shows the sensitivity of Blanche’s character that leads to her tragedy.

Tennessee Williams uses several literary elements to reveal how characters respond differently to the world. The characterization of Blanche and Stanley is essential, as Stanley is depicted as an insensitive, brutal creature who has no regard for others’ emotions. Therefore, he feels no regret as he destroys the relationship between Blanche and Mitch.

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