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Homo economicus in Robinson Crusoe Essay

Daniel Defoe’ Robinson Crusoe takes an important place in the history of the English novel, because it was the first time that a continuous prose narrative had been written with the specific aim of creating the illusion of day-to-day living. Robinson Crusoe is very much a product of his age, the individualistic-minded eighteenth century.  The Economic Individualism in Robison Crusoe illustrates the attitudes of a eighteenth century British citizen. Daniel Defoe presents Robison Crusoe as a merchant of the eighteenth century who was going to his Brazilian plantations, when his ship was wrecked and he was the only survivor in an island that he called “the island of Despair”. Crusoe faced innumerable difficulties. For fifteen years he struggles alone to build a comfortable house, to grow crops and raise goats, to make clothes and tools, and, most difficult of all, to fight off loneliness and despair. We can notice that Defoe concentrates on Crusoe struggles with practical problems. Robison Crusoe is an illustration ofhomo economicus, that is, economic man that symbolizes the new outlook of individualism in its economic aspect.

All Defoe’s heroes pursue money, and we can see this very clearly in Robinson Crusoe – the story begins Robinson Crusoe going to his Brazilian plantation, however his ship was wrecked and he was the only survivor in an island. And in this island, he regards the island primarily as a property to be developed for his own use. Moreover, we observe that the eighteenth century influenced Robinson Crusoe. He was a practical man. Likewise, we notice that he did not want to adapt himself to the wild environment. He tried to adapt the environment reproducing everything according to his society, in other words, he was influenced by the social and economic organization of the place that he used to live. When Robinson Crusoe started to look for a place in the island, in order to build a house, we can realize that he wanted to represent his life in England in the island. As the time passed by, Crusoe began to set his routine, that is, he organized himself and established time to sleep, to work, to eat, and every else. This attitude shows that the average individual economic life under division of labor as interesting of inspiring. The elements of the individualism, showing in Robinson Crusoe, Defoe represents exactly the kind of attitudes, which were eventually to make Britain the richest country in the world and lead it to establish a vast empire, and illustrates the attitudes of a eighteenth century British citizen.

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