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Irony in Robinson Crusoe

Irony Examples in Robinson Crusoe:

Chapter XI - Finds Print Of Man's Foot On The Sand

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"To-day we love what to-morrow we hate; to-day we seek what to-morrow we shun..."   (Chapter XI - Finds Print Of Man's Foot On The Sand)

Crusoe comments on the irony of his situation. He has been craving human contact for years, but when the possibility of another person arrives, he is intensely fearful. Notice the parallel structures of the sentences, which add to the poetic, rhythmic tone.

"all this time I was in a murdering humour..."   (Chapter XIII - Wreck Of A Spanish Ship)

Crusoe is at least partly self-conscious of the irony that he demonstrates violent inclinations as he judges the cannibals for their violent ways.

"Pray note, all this was the fruit of a disturbed mind, an impatient temper, made desperate, as it were, by the long continuance of my troubles, and the disappointments I had met in the wreck I had been on board of, and where I had been so near obtaining what I so earnestly longed for - somebody to speak to, and to learn some knowledge from them of the place where I was, and of the probable means of my deliverance...."   (Chapter XIV - A Dream Realised)

In this use of apostrophe to his reader, Crusoe anticipates the Christian reader’s criticism and asks that they understand his situation through his point of view. In doing so, Defoe contributes to a tradition some see as central to the novel as a form: its ability to convey experiences framed by other minds. Ironically, given his treatment of most strangers, Crusoe is calling on the reader to use a skill that he himself does not seem to model.

"to save the life, and, for aught I knew, the soul of a poor savage,..."   (Chapter XV - Friday's Education)

Notice that the religious journey Defoe documents in Robinson Crusoe is deepened by his sharing of his faith with another individual. Though Crusoe seems to struggle with his own faith and how it dictates the events of his life, he seems to believe that bringing Friday to the knowledge of the Christian God will save his life and his soul. Crusoe enjoys a degree of satisfaction in bringing another individual to Christ even though he is far from the perfect Christian himself.

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