Robinson Crusoe

by: Daniel Defoe

Important Quotations Explained

“O drug!” said I aloud, “what art thou good for? Thou art not worth to me, no, not the taking off of the ground; one of those knives is worth all this heap; I have no manner of use for thee; e’en remain where thou art and go to the bottom as a creature whose life is not worth saving.” However, upon second thoughts, I took it away. . . .

Crusoe’s contradictory relationship with money is seen in this affirmation in Chapter VI, when he declares that the gold he discovers is worthless, only moments before hauling it away for safekeeping. He does the same thing many years later, expressing scorn for the treasure on the Spanish wreck, but then taking it to shore. The conflict between spiritual aims (scorning worldly wealth) and material ambitions (hoarding gold) reflects the novel’s tension between the practical and the religious. Moreover, Crusoe’s combination of disdain and desire for money is also interesting because Crusoe is conscious of his conflicted feelings only in a limited way. He calls money a drug and admits that he is addicted—but he is not interested in the way he fails to practice what he preaches. We see how Defoe’s focus in the novel is primarily on the practical rather than the psychological, despite the fascinating aspects of Crusoe’s mind. Crusoe’s mixed feelings about the gold also reflect his nostalgia for human society, since he tells us that money has no value in itself, unlike the useful knives to which he compares it. It has only a social worth, and thus reminds us that Crusoe may still be a social creature despite his isolation.