Robinson Crusoe

by: Daniel Defoe

Important Quotations Explained

2
My island was now peopled, and I thought myself very rich in subjects; and it was a merry reflection, which I frequently made, how like a king I looked. First of all, the whole country was my own mere property, Baso that I had an undoubted right of dominion. Secondly, my people were perfectly subjected. I was absolute lord and lawgiver, they all owed their lives to me, and were ready to lay down their lives, if there had been occasion of it, for me.

This passage, from Chapter XXV, shows us Crusoe’s astonishing ability throughout the novel to claim possession of things. He sells his fellow slave Xury to the Portuguese captain even though he has no claim of ownership over the boy. He seizes the contents of two wrecked ships and takes Friday as his servant immediately after meeting him. Most remarkably, he views the island itself as “my own mere property” over which he has “an undoubted right of dominion.” We may wonder why he has no reason to at least doubt his right of dominion, but his faith in his property rights seems absolute. Moreover, Crusoe’s conception of property determines his understanding of politics. He jokes about his “merry reflection” of looking like a king, but it seems more than a merry thought when he refers to “my people” being “perfectly subjected.” Kingship is like ownership for Crusoe. He does not mention any duties or obligations toward his people. His subjects are for him like his possessions: he imagines them grateful for being owned, expecting nothing further from Crusoe. Of course, this view is only Crusoe’s presumption. It is hard to believe that the Spaniard sincerely sees himself as “perfectly subjected” to Crusoe, even if Crusoe does save his life. Nevertheless, Crusoe’s personal point of view dominates the novel and shows us how deeply colonialism depended on a self-righteous, proprietary way of thinking.