INTRODUCTION The Enlightenment’s emphasis on reason shaped philosophical,political and scientific discourse from late 17th to the early 19th century.The Enlightenment -the great ‘‘Age of Reason ‘’-is defined as the period of rigorous scientific ,political and philosophical discourse that characterised Europian society during the long 18th century to the ending of the Nopoleonic Wars in 1815.This was a period of huge change in thought and reason ,which was decisive in the making of modernity. Centuries of custom and tradition were brushed aside in favour of exploration ,individualism ,tolerance and scientific endeavor which in tandem with developments in industry and politics witnessed the emergence of the modern world.
In the 18th century in England ,as in other European countries ,there sprang into life a public movement known as the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment ,on the whole was an expression of struggle of the ten progressive class of bourgeoise against feudalism. The Enlighteners fought against class inequality ,prejudices and other survivals of feudalism. They attempted to place all branched of science at the service of mankind by connecting them with the actual needs and requirements of people. The problem of men comes to the fore superseding all other problems in literature. The enlighteners prove that man is born kind and honest and if he becomes depraved ,it is only due to the influence of corrupted social environment. Fighting the survivals of feudalism ,the enlighteners at the same time were prone to accept bourgeois relationships as rightful and reasonable relationships among people .The English writers of the time formed two groups. The first-hoped to better the world simply by teaching (Defoe).The Other -openly protested against the vicious social order (Swift, Fielding, Sheridan, Burns).
THE LITERATURE OF ENLIGHTENMENT
The outcomes of the Enlightenment were thus far-reaching and indeed,revolutionary. By the early 1800s a new public sphere of political debate was evident in Europian society ,having emerged first in culture of coffee houses and later fulled by an explosion of books, magazines ,pamphlets and newspapers .Secular science and invention ,fertilized by a spitit of enquiryand discovery,also became the hallmark of modern society,which in turn propelled the pace of 18th century industrialisation and economic growth.
Induvidualism -the personal freedoms celebrated by Locke ,Aam smith ,Voltaire and Kant-became part of the web of modern society that trickled down into 19th century notions of independence ,self help and liberalism.Representative government on behalf of the people was enshrined in new constitutional arrngements ,charactirised by the slow march towards universal suffrage in 1900s.
Evidence of the Enlightenment thus remains with us today:in our notions of free speech ,our secular yetreligiously tolerant socities ,in science ,the arts and literature : all legacies of proud moment for change that transformed the nature of society forever.
English literature is often described as beginning with Chaucer .This would give England 6 centuries of literature.Actually there were more 6 centuries of literature before Chaucer was born.The modern reader can make out the general meaning of a passage of Chaucer without difficulty.,but if he looks at the earliest English literature he finds that it doesn’t read like English.
The two most important events in the history of England took place before the Norman Conquest.One of them was the period when Angels ,Saxons and Jutes came to England.Literature in the Anglo-Saxon period was recorded in manuscripts ,among which is ‘’The song of Beowulf’’.
English novelist,pamphleteer and journalist Daniel Defoe was born in 1660 in London,England.Defoe’s father ,James Foe was a hard working and fairly prosperous tallow chandler of Flemish descent.By his middle 30s,Daniel was calling himself ‘’Defoe’’probably reviving a variant of what may have been the original family name.He became a merchant and participated in several feeling businesses facing bankruptcy and aggressive creaditors.He was also a prolific political pamphleteer which landed him in prison for slander.Late in life he turned his pen to fiction and wrote ROBINSON CRUSOE ,one of the most widely read and influential novels of all the time.
Foreign politics also engaged Defoe’s attention.In 1724 he published his last major work of fiction,ROXANA,thought in the closing years of his life,despite failing health ,he reminded active and enterprising as a writer.Defoe’s last years were clouded by legal controversies over allegedly unpaid bonds dating back a generation,and it is thought that he died in hiding from his creditors.His character Moll Flanders,born in Newgate Prison ,speaks of poverty as a ‘’frightfull spectre ‘’,and it is a theme of many of his books.
A journal of the plague year,account of the Great plague of London in 1664 -65,written by Daniel Defoe and published in 1722.Narrated by ‘’H.F’’an inhabitant of London who purportedly was an eyewitness to thedevastation that followed the outbreak of bubonic plague,the book was a historical and fictional reconstruction by Defoe. A man of many talents and author of an extra ordinary range and number of works, Defoe remains in many ways an enigmatic figure A man who made many enemies,he has been accused of double-dealing , of dishonest or equivocal conduct of venality.
His first political pamphlet was ‘’The True-Born English man ‘’(1701)in which he exposes the aristocracy and tyranny of the church.
Daniel Defoe’s writing style and literary qualities of his masterpieces brought praiseworthy changes in the global English literature years later him. His distinctive writing approach and unique expression have made him stand among the best historical fiction writer of his time as well as the later times. Also, his political passion and views regarding legitimacy and power had a significant influence on a diverse range of writers and other influential figures. He is so much popular at this time the intertextualities have made it easy for other writers to allude to him in every other novel they create. Daniel Defoe enjoyed a successful literary life. His trade experiences, political passions, and the personal tragedies he encountered during his early years played a pivotal role in his writing career. Using his unique style, he beautifully portrayed his ideas in his literary pieces. Although the satirical style and harsh tone of his political and religious pamphlets annoyed the ruling class, yet he continued presenting the true picture of his time in his writings. For example , his much – appreciated work, Robinson Crusoe presents the realistic projection of the human psyche and emotion. Marked with the use of reflective tone, satirical style ,irony, symbolism and metaphors ,his works won universal recognition. The recurring themes in most of his writings are prejudice , politics , religion ,and human nature.
His best novels include Robinson Crusoe ,Captain Singleton ,Moll Flanders ,Roxana ,and Memoirs of a Cavalier. Other works: besides writing novels, he tried his hands on the other genres, too .Some of them include ‘’The poor Man’s Plea’’,’ ’Giving Alms No charity’’, Employing the Poor’’ ,’’An Appeal to Honour and Justice, An essay Upon Literature’’ and ‘’The Political History of the Devil’’.
Robinson Crusoe, as a young child and impulsive wanderer, defined his parents and went to sea. He was involved in a series of violent storms at the sea and was warned by the captain that he should not be a seafaring man. Ashamed to go home, Crusoe boarded another ship and returned from a successful trip to Africa. Taking off again, Crusoe met with bed luck and was taken prisoner in Sallee .
His captors sent Crusoe out to fish ,and he used this to his adventage and escaped,along with a slave.
He was rescued by a Portuguese ship and started a new adventure . He landed in Brazil,and after some time ,he became the owner of a sugar plantation. Hoping to increase his wealth by buying slaves , he aligned himself with other planters and undertook a trip to Africa in order to bring back a shipload of slaves. After surviving a storm, Crusoe and the others were shipwrecked.He was thrown upon shore only to discover that he was the sole survivor of the wreck.
Crusoe made immediate plants for food ,and then shelter, to protect himself from wild animals. He brought as many things as possible from the wrecked ship,things that would be useful later to him. In addition, he began to develop talents that he had never used in order to provide himself with necessities. Cut off from the company of men,he began to communicate with God,thus beginning the first part of his religious conversion. To keep his sanity and to entertain himself, he began a journal. In the journal, he recorded every task that he performed each day since he had been marooned.
As time passed, Crusoe became a skilled craftsman, able to construct many useful things,and thus furnished himself with diverse comforts. He also learned about farming, as a result of some seeds which he brought with him. An illness prompted some prophetic dreams, and Crusoe began to reappraise his duty to God. Crusoe explored his island much richer and more fertile, and he built a summer home there.
One of the first tasks he undertook was build himself a canoe in case an escape became possible,but the canoe was too heavy to get to the water . He then constructed a small boat and journeyed around the island. Crusoe reflected on his earlier,wicked life,disobeying his parents, and wondered if it might be related to his isolation on this island.
After spending about fifteen years on the island, Crusoe found a man’s naked footprint and he was sorely beset by apprehensions, which kept him awake many rights. He considered many possibilities to account for the footprint and he began to take extra precautions against a possible intruder. Sometime later, Crusoe was horrified to find human bones scattered about the shore, evidently the remains of a savage feast. He was plagued again with new fears. He explored the nature of cannibalism and debated
His right to interfere with the customs of another race. Crusoe was cautious for several years, but encountered nothing more to alarm him. He found a cave, which he used as a storage room, and in December of the same year, he spied cannibals sitting around a campfire. He did not see them again for quite some time.
Later, Crusoe saw a ship in distress, but everyone was already drowned on the ship and Crusoe remained companionless. However, he was able to take many provisions from this newly wrecked ship. Some later, cannibals landed on the island and a victim escaped. Crusoe saved his life ,named him Friday and tought him English. Friday soon became Crusoe's humble and devoted slave.
Crusoe and Friday made plans to leave the island and, accordingly, they built another boat. Crusoe also undertook Friday's religious education, converting the savage into a Protestant. Their voyage was postponed due to the return of the savages. This time it was necessary to attack the cannibals in order to save two prisoners since one was a white man. The white man was a Spaniard and the other was Friday's father. Later the four of them planned a voyage to the mainland to rescue sixteen compatriots of the Spaniard. First, however, they built up their food supply to assure enough food for the extra people. Crusoe and Friday agreed to wait on the island while the Spaniard and Friday's father brought back the other men.
A week later, they spied a ship but they quickly learned that there had been a mutiny on board. By devious means, Crusoe and Friday rescued the captain and two other men, and after much scheming, regained control of the ship. The grateful captain gave Crusoe many gifts and took him and Friday back to England. Some of the rebel crewmen were left marooned on the island.
Crusoe returned to England and found that in his absence he had become a wealthy man. After going to Lisbon to handle some of his affairs, Crusoe began an overland journey back to England. Crusoe and his company encountered many hardships in crossing the mountains, but they finally arrived safely in England. Crusoe sold his plantation in Brazil for a good price, married, and had three children. Finally, however, he was persuaded to go on yet another voyage, and he visited his old island, where there were promises of new adventures to be found in a later account.
Robinson Crusoe is a youth of about eighteen years old who resides in Hull, England. Although his father wishes him to become a lawyer, Crusoe dreams of going on sea voyages. He disregards the fact that his two older brothers are gone because of their need for adventure. His father cautions that a middle-class existence is the most stable. Robinson ignores him. When his parents refuse to let him take at least one journey, he runs away with a friend and secures free passage to London. Misfortune begins immediately, in the form of rough weather. The ship is forced to land at Yarmouth. When Crusoe's friend learns the circumstances under which he left his family, he becomes angry and tells him that he should have never come to the sea. They part, and Crusoe makes his way to London via land. He thinks briefly about going home, but cannot stand to be humiliated. He manages to find another voyage headed to Guiana. Once there, he wants to become a trader. On the way, the ship is attacked by Turkish pirates, who bring the crew and passengers into the Moorish port of Sallee. Robinson is made a slave. For two years he plans an escape. An opportunity is presented when he is sent out with two Moorish youths to go fishing. Crusoe throws one overboard, and tells the other one, called Xury, that he may stay if he is faithful. They anchor on what appears to be uninhabited land. Soon they see that black people live there. These natives are very friendly to Crusoe and Xury. At one point, the two see a Portuguese ship in the distance. They manage to paddle after it and get the attention of those on board. The captain is kind and says he will take them aboard for free and bring them to Brazil.
Robinson goes to Brazil and leaves Xury with the captain. The captain and a widow in England are Crusoe's financial guardians. In the new country, Robinson observes that much wealth comes from plantations. He resolves to buy one for himself. After a few years, he has some partners, and they are all doing very well financially. Crusoe is presented with a new proposition: to begin a trading business. These men want to trade slaves, and they want Robinson to be the master of the tradepost. Although he knows he has enough money, Crusoe decides to make the voyage. A terrible shipwreck occurs and Robinson is the only survivor. He manages to make it to the shore of an island.
Robinson remains on the island for twenty-seven years. He is able to take many provisions from the ship. In that time, he recreates his English life, building homes, necessities, learning how to cook, raise goats and crops. He is at first very miserable, but embraces religion as a balm for his unhappiness. He is able to convince himself that he lives a much better life here than he did in Europe--much more simple, much less wicked. He comes to appreciate his sovereignty over the entire island. One time he tries to use a boat to explore the rest of the island, but he is almost swept away, and does not make the attempt again. He has pets whom he treats as subjects. There is no appearance of man until about 15 years into his stay. He sees a footprint, and later observes cannibalistic savages eating prisoners. They don't live on the island; they come in canoes from a mainland not too far away. Robinson is filled with outrage, and resolves to save the prisoners the next time these savages appear. Some years later they return. Using his guns, Crusoe scares them away and saves a young savage whom he names Friday.
Friday is extremely grateful and becomes Robinson's devoted servant. He learns some English and takes on the Christian religion. For some years the two live happily. Then, another ship of savages arrives with three prisoners. Together Crusoe and Friday are able to save two of them. One is a Spaniard; the other is Friday's father. Their reunion is very joyous. Both have come from the mainland close by. After a few months, they leave to bring back the rest of the Spaniard's men. Crusoe is happy that his island is being peopled. Before the Spaniard and Friday's father can return, a boat of European men comes ashore. There are three prisoners. While most of the men are exploring the island, Crusoe learns from one that he is the captain of a ship whose crew mutinied. Robinson says he will help them as long as they leave the authority of the island in his hands, and as long as they promise to take Friday and himself to England for free. The agreement is made. Together this little army manages to capture the rest of the crew and retake the captain's ship. Friday and Robinson are taken to England. Even though Crusoe has been gone thirty-five years, he finds that his plantations have done well and he is very wealthy. He gives money to the Portuguese captain and the widow who were so kind to him. He returns to the English countryside and settles there, marrying and having three children. When his wife dies, he once more goes to the sea.
THE MAIN CARACTERS IN THE NOVEL
the main character of the story, he is a rebellious youth with an inexplicable need to travel. Because of this need, he brings misfortune on himself and is left to fend for himself in a primitive land. The novel essentially chronicles his mental and spiritual development as a result of his isolation. He is a contradictory character; at the same time he is practical ingenuity and immature decisiveness.
a friend/servant of Crusoe's, he also escapes from the Moors. A simple youth who is dedicated to Crusoe, he is admirable for his willingness to stand by the narrator. However, he does not think for himself.
another friend/servant of Crusoe's, he spends a number of years on the island with the main character, who saves him from cannibalistic death. Friday is basically Crusoe's protege, a living example of religious justification of the slavery relationship between the two men. His eagerness to be redone in the European image is supposed to convey that this image is indeed the right one.
although he appears only briefly in the beginning, he embodies the theme of the merits of Protestant, middle-class living. It is his teachings from which Crusoe is running, with poor success.
one of the few female figures, she fully supports her husband and will not let Crusoe go on a voyage.
Crusoe's slave master, he allows for a role reversal of white men as slaves. He apparently is not too swift, however, in that he basically hands Crusoe an escape opportunity.
Portuguese sea captain
one of the kindest figures in the book, he is an honest man who embodies all the Christian ideals. Everyone is supposed to admire him for his extreme generosity to the narrator. He almost takes the place of Crusoe's father.
one of the prisoners saved by Crusoe, it is interesting to note that he is treated with much more respect in Crusoe's mind than any of the colored peoples with whom Crusoe is in contact.
Captured sea captain
he is an ideal soldier, the intersection between civilized European and savage white man. Crusoe's support of his fight reveals that the narrator no longer has purely religious motivations.
she is goodness personified, and keeps Crusoe's money safe for him. She is in some way a foil to his mother, who does not support him at all.
the cannibals from across the way, they represent the threat to Crusoe's religious and moral convictions, as well as his safety. He must conquer them before returning to his own world.
they help Xury and Crusoe when they land on their island, and exist in stark contrast to the savages.
Traitorous crew members
they are an example of white men who do not heed God; they are white savages.