Robinson Crusoe as a Heroine

George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University

Since Robinson Crusoe is a man, one might wonder how Polly Flint can for so long make him a model for her own life. One reason she can do so lies in his status as an ideal, another in the fact that she sees him and his situation together forming a paradigm for women's existence. After overhearing her aunts quarrel about Frances's plan to marry Father Polock, Polly looked to where Robinson Crusoe stood upon the shelf and thought of that straightforward, strong and sexless man sitting alone in the sunshine. How easy and beautiful life had been for him" [54]. When she meets the young poet Paul Treece, she explains in the course of a long discussion that Crusoe "was possessed by guilt and discontent and this tremendous inborn lust for travel. He was the last man on earth to endure imprisonment on an island, but he came to terms with it. He didn't go mad. He was brave. He was wonderful. He was like women have to be almost always, on an island. Stuck. Imprisoned. The only way to survive is to say it is God's will" [133].

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