Robinson Crusoe

by: Daniel Defoe

Important Quotations Explained

4
I might well say now indeed, that the latter end of Job was better than the beginning. It is impossible to express here the flutterings of my very heart when I looked over these letters, and especially when I found all my wealth about me; for as the Brazil ships come all in fleets, the same ships which brought my letters brought my goods. . . .

Crusoe’s comparison of himself to the biblical character Job in Chapter XXIX, after his return to England, reveals much about how he gives his ordeal religious meaning. In Crusoe’s mind, his shipwreck and solitude are not random disastrous events but segments of an elaborate lesson in Christian patience. Like Job, whose faith was tested by God through the loss of family and wealth, Crusoe is deprived of his fortune while nevertheless retaining his faith in Providence. This passage also showcases Crusoe’s characteristic neutral tone—the detached, deadpan style in which he narrates even thrilling events. Although he reports that the emotional effects make his heart flutter, he displays very little emotion in the passage, certainly not the joy expected of someone who suddenly becomes wealthy. The biblical grandeur of the original Job is lost in Crusoe’s ordinary and conversational opening, “I might very well say now.” We see how Crusoe is far better suited to plodding and mundane everyday life than to dramatic sublimity. Even when the events call for drama, Crusoe seems to do all he can to make them humdrum. This emphasis on the ordinary was a new trend in English literature and is a major characteristic of the novel, which Defoe helped invent.