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.