Study Guide

Robinson Crusoe Rules and Order

By Daniel Defoe

Rules and Order

Evil.
I am cast upon a horrible desolate Island, void of all hope of Recovery.

Good.
But I am alive, and not drown'd as all my Ship'd Company was.

Crusoe weighs the good and bad of his situation, attempting to put the world into some rational, moral order. Notice how he organizes his thoughts into two columns in this section.

So I went to work; and here I must needs observe, that as Reason is the Substance and Original of the Mathematicks, so by stating and squaring every thing by Reason, and by making the most rational Judgment of things, every Man may be in time Master of every mechanick Art. (59)

Crusoe has ultimate faith in reason and logic. His worldview is one in which the world is knowable and reason brings light to the dark corners of existence. The island starts out as a frightening place, but is soon organized and colonized. Here, he labors to make a table and chair.

So that had my Cave been to be seen, it look'd like a general Magazine of all Necessary things, and I had every thing so ready at my Hand, that it was a great Pleasure to me to see all my Goods in such Order, and especially to find my Stock all Necessaries so great. (60)

Crusoe keeps his world in good working order and his living space on the island is no exception. He keeps everything in its place.

But then it presently occur'd to me, that I must keep the tame form the wild, or else they would always run wild when they grew up, and the only Way for this was to have some enclosed Piece of Ground, well fenc'd either with Hege or Pale, to keep them in so effectually, that those within might not break out, or those without break in (124)

Crusoe splits up the island and encloses it, imposing a manmade order on the natural world.

Then to see how like a King I din'd too all alone, attended by my Servants, <em>Poll</em>, as if he had been my Favourite, was the only Person permitted to talk to me. My Dog who was no grown very old and crazy, and had found no Species to multiply his Kind upon, sat always at my Right Hand, and two Cats, one on one Side the Table, and one on the other, expecting now and then a Bit from my Hand, as a Mark of Special Favour. (126)

Notice the hierarchal order that Crusoe imposes on the natural world.

That we did not know by what Light and Law these should be Condemn'd; but that as God was necessarily, and by the Nature of his Being, infinitely Holy and Just, so it could not be, but that if these Creatures were all sentenc'd to Absence from himself, it was on account of sinning against that Light which, as the Scripture says, was a Law to themselves, and by such Rules as their Consciences would acknowledge to be just, tho' the Foundation was not discover'd to us (177)

Crusoe wonders why Friday and his people have not been introduced to God yet. He realizes that the rule and law of Heaven is the ultimate.

While I was making this March, my former Thoughts returning, I began to abate my Resolution; I do not mean, that I entertain'd any Fear of their Number; for as they were naked, unarm'd Wretches, 'tis certain I was superior to them; nay, though I had been alone; but it occurr'd to my Thoughts, What Call? What Occasion? Much less, What Necessity I was in to go and dip my  Hands in Blood, to attack People, who had neither done, or intended me any Wrong? (195)

Crusoe considers the right law and order with which to regulate the cannibals on the island. Is it necessary for him to intervene if this is merely their custom?

My Island was now peopled, and I thought my self very rich in Subjects; and it was a merry Reflection which I frequently made, How like a King I look'd. First of all, the whole Country was my own meer Property; so that I had an undoubted Right of Dominion. <em>2dly</em>, My people were perfectly subjected: I was absolute Lord and Law-giver; they all owed their Lives to me, and were ready to lay down their Lives, <em>if there had been Occasion of it,</em> for me. It was remarkable too, we had but three Subjects, and they were of three different Religions. My Man <em>Friday</em> was a Protestant, his Father was a <em>Pagan</em> and a <em>Cannibal,</em> and the Spaniard was a Papist: However, I allow'd Liberty of Conscience throughout my Dominions: But this is by the Way. (203)

Crusoe sees himself as the ruler of the natural order on the island.