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The Significance of the Island Setting - The Tempest and Robinson Crusoe.

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Introduction

The Significance of the Island Setting (Question #6) Margarita Banting FDNS 101- R2C T.A: Annie November 29, 2002 Once an island isolates man from civilization, the island itself becomes a minuscule society reflecting a larger one. In the play, The Tempest, and the novel, Robinson Crusoe, the islands serve as microcosms of British society. In The Tempest, the microscopic society of Prospero's island addresses the aspects of morality, the supernatural and politics in the larger, British society. Robinson Crusoe's island aids his personal physical and spiritual growth. It also reflects aspects of materialism, colonization and religion in the British society. Although both pieces are fiction, they still inform the reader about current social matters in reality because of the uncomplicated island setting and its ability to simplify situations. The island in Shakespeare's Tempest is a microcosm of seventeenth century society. Not only does it serve as a microcosm of society, but the island also controls the actions of the characters through its minute and limited environment. In the play, Prospero is once "the duke of Milan and a prince of power" (Shakespeare, I.ii.53) who has control over his kingdom. Now, his powers are insignificant on the island, where only Miranda, Ariel and Caliban live. The island environment limits him to his precious books. ...read more.

Middle

are forced to confront their situation. When Prospero and Alonso meet for the first time in act five, scene one, he is reminded by Prospero how "most cruelly didst ... Alonso, use [him] and [his] daughter" (V.i.71). He immediately asks Prospero to pardon his wrongs. The marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda further gives reason for Prospero and Alonso to reconcile with one another. In Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, the island's natural environment highlights the theme of man's individual growth, both spiritually and physically. In other ways, however, this can also be seen as the growth of society. The environment instantly exercises its power and control over man in the tropical storm that leads to the shipwreck of Crusoe's ship. "The fury of the sea" (Defoe, 39) thrusts Crusoe to the shores of the uninhabited "Island of Despair" (Defoe, 60). Isolated on the island, Crusoe is challenged to use his resourcefulness in order to survive. Crusoe accepts the challenge to survive. Not only does he survive, but he also expands and discovers new qualities about himself. In the beginning of his time on the island, Crusoe feels extremely isolated. Fearing savages and wild beasts on earth, he stays high up in his "apartment in the tree" (42). Lacking a "weapon to hunt and kill creatures for his sustenance" (Defoe, 41), he is vulnerable. ...read more.

Conclusion

On the island, Crusoe realizes the work of Providence while witnessing the barley miraculously grow: "for it was the work of Providence as to me, that should order or appoint, that the ten or twelve grains of corn should remain unspoiled, as if it had been dropped down from Heaven" ( Defoe, 69). Without the island setting, Crusoe would have not notice such an event, as barley grows abundantly in his home country. If he had not noticed this event, he would not have realized "how wonderfully we are delivered, when we know nothing of it" (Defoe, 175). In general, the significance of the island setting serves to simplify large scale situations. In simplifying the situation, audiences and readers are able to better understand the events of both the novel and society. During the time of The Tempest, issues of morality, the supernatural and political relations were present. These issues are indirectly related to the play. Defoe's Robinson Crusoe also relates current matters to its novel: the island helps the reader understand matters of individual growth, colonization, and religion during the eighteenth century. Although addressed to events of their respective times, the issues that Shakespeare and Defoe cover in their works are so powerful that they continue to have an impact on present society. ...read more.

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