Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Man and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe

2817 Words12 Pages
Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Man and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe

The theme of "man’s relationship to God and the universe" presented in Epistle 1 of Alexander Pope’s "An Essay on Man" complements Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Crusoe is an inconsistent character who turns to God whenever he is in need, yet fails to maintain respect for nature and for his fellow man. In the first year of Robinson Crusoe’s solitary life on the island, he falls ill and has a terrifying dream that alters his awareness of his place in the universe and God’s control of it. This experience leads him to contemplate his past ingratitude and to embark on a life of piety, reading the Bible daily, though without a drastic or permanent change in his character.
…show more content…
In the climax of his fearful dream, Crusoe hears a voice threaten him, "Seeing all these things have not brought thee to Repentance, now thou shalt die," and he awakens with a tremendous "Impression" on his mind (65). This is a point of change for the sailor, and he meditates on his life and the unacknowledged influence of God. Pope’s essay speaks to this awareness, for his focus is on the presence of God in nature and humanity. In Section 8 he exclaims, "Vast Chain of Being! which from God began, / Natures ethereal, human, Angel, Man, / Beast, Bird, Fish, Insect!" (237-39). According to Pope, the existence of all things emanates from a God who created all things to be united. This message also speaks to Crusoe, when he first becomes aware of the link between God and himself. As soon as Crusoe becomes open to God, he begins thinking, "Such as we are all made by some secret Power, who form’d the Earth and Sea, the Air and Sky; and who is that? . . . It is God" (68). Robinson Crusoe comes to see God as the creator that Pope has presented him and in this way, Pope’s "An Essay on Man" articulates Crusoe’s development as a person.

Robinson Crusoe’s description of his meals demonstrates man’s dependence on nature for survival, proving Pope’s belief that "each System" is "Alike essential to th’ amazing Whole" (247-48). In his June 28 entry, Crusoe states that he takes "a

    More about Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Man and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe

      Open Document