Robinson Crusoe is a precursor of “economic man” because of his relationship with the island, his relationship with the people and religion. Firstly, Robinson Crusoe sees the island not as a peaceful place but as a market full of resources that have to be exploited. Cruse’s whole life is paced by the market’s society stages that are buying, selling, trading. He is a businessman. He illustrates the corrupt influences of society. After closely escaping a shipwreck on his first voyage, Crusoe is still driven to set sail again.
Before embarking, he even draws attention to the “evil Influence which carried me first away from my Father’s House, that hurried me into the wild and indigested Notion of raising my Fortune; and that impressed those Conceits so forcibly upon me, as to make me deaf to all good advice”. Crusoe directly addresses the “evil influence” of society that manifests the idea that we must exercise every opportunity to attain wealth and power. As soon as he arrives, Cruse’s obsession is to find resources of his environment to survive.
He learns the real relationships between things whose value is crucial for his survival. For example, wherever he looks he sees acres full of resources, and as he settles down to the task he glows, not with noble savagery, but purposive possession. He is the example of the capitalist man producing goods because they are useful and producing only as much as it is useful to him not seeking profits. The island is not an occasion to relax and meditate on his life but to conquer it as much as he can. He can be compared to a colonial capitalist who invade a colony and exploit its resources as much as he can.
Capitalism is the most important notion and everything has to succumb -here, the island has to succumb to Robinson Crusoe. The glorification of labor is a main theme. Before arriving on the island, Crusoe was already not pending money for his clothes, for traveling, for anything that does not have a connection with the economy. He is Joyless, with an eternal feeling of being guilty, anxiety and transgression of his principles. Defogs perfect representation of capitalism is represented by those mentioned feelings that have built his personality structure.
This “economic man” mentality comes Marx, Morris and the Guild who were supporting the idea to create a society where all economic activities would increase individual’s stature and the right political side whose leitmotiv is that hard ark is the key to all. The island is the free enterprise with Robinson Crusoe in the role of the capitalist. He arrived with nothing and tries to find back a certain comfort in an island full of resources. Robinson arrives with nothing and tries to find back a certain comfort on an island full of resources. He represents the successful self made-man.
Secondly, Robinson Cruse’s relationship with people shows that his leitmotiv is economic before anything. He initial work was trading slaves. He was in favor of slavery and it was his first money resource. Its racism is best describes when he first met Friday. We can feel superiority, racism and condescended in this meeting for example e uses expression such as “these merciless creatures” and “l should alarm the savages” (IPPP). His relationships with others are based primarily on their use for him. They are labor power. For example, he became friend with the English captain who offered him not to pay for the travel on the ship.
Then there is his meeting with Jury, who was devoted to him and extremely loyal and despite that he sold him to leaver; But instead of regretting his act because of what he did to that person, he regretted it because he needed his help for his plantation in the island. He always acts in his own interest. For example, he was close to the English captain’s widow because she was providing him with money in his early days and she was taking care of his money when he was a castaway. Crusoe has an extreme inhibition of feelings to woman. He does not need woman and for example he is satisfied by his idyll with Friday.
Sex is subordinated to business. For example in the essay “Robinson Crusoe s a myth” by Ian Watt, the author writes that ” sex is seen as a dangerous irrational factor in life which interferes with the pursuit of rational self-interest: and economic and moral worth in the male does not guarantee him a profitable matrimonial investment”. Crusoe is individualist and use to talk about social structure and stratification. In 1719 there were a station in the classes, there is no relationships between them. Robinson Cruse’s relationship with people is interested; there is no time for feelings.
If a person does not bring him something in relation with labor or none, this person is unnecessary. Thirdly, Defogs vision of religion is also that of an “economic man”. When he arrived in the island, Robinson thought that God was firstly punishing him for his lack of religiousness and secondly thought that if he was the only survival is was his chance to earn redemption. Defoe wants to show that Robinson Crusoe is heroic when he works hard and the redemption can happen only with untiring labor. The dignity of labor is the central point of the religion of capitalism.
In Ancient Greece, manual work was assimilated to slave’s work and so was rejected. Defoe propose a new kind of perception of work compared to other writers whose utopian vision of life was a minimum number of hour of labor while Defogs utopia vision is working until death. Labor was the most valuable form of human activity. The novel has also many religious references to the Puritanism and the ideology of ascetic Protestants. Crusoe not only works but also submits to a higher divine power. It is the apology of the capitalism. There is not the image of the painful and boring isolation but the image of the beginning of a “new person”, reborn.