“I went on board in an evil hour, the 1st of Sept. 1659, being the same day eight year that I went from my Father and Mother at hull, in order to act the rebel to their authority, and the fool to my own interest.”

Reflecting on his decision to set out on an adventure at sea rather than heed his father’s advice to go to school, Crusoe recognizes his rebellion-fueled folly. It is only after certain hardship, although the hardship Crusoe has faced by the time of this quote barely scratches the surface of the total hardship he will face throughout the novel, that Crusoe comes to see his actions as mistakes. This predicament suggests that self-awareness is important because if Crusoe possessed this self-awareness from the beginning, he would have escaped tremendous danger and struggles.

“In a word, the nature and experience of things dictated to me upon just reflection, that all the good things of this world, are no farther good to us, than they are for our use; and that whatever we may heap up indeed to give others, we enjoy just as much as we can use, and more.”

This passage exhibits the change in thinking Crusoe experiences throughout the novel due to reflection and his growing self-awareness. The novel’s inciting incident is driven by Crusoe’s greed. After his meditation, reflection, and repentance on the island, however, Crusoe comes to understand the importance of being grateful for what one has. His newfound self-awareness allows him to understand what he truly needs and to reach a level of satisfaction when those needs are met. 

“Thus we never see the true state of our condition till it is illustrated to us by its contraries, nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it.”

Here, Crusoe meditates on the nature of self-awareness and the means by which it is obtained. In many facets of his life, including his outlook and decision-making, Crusoe only reaches a useful sense of self-awareness when it is too late to change course. For example, Crusoe doesn’t understand the folly of greed until he is stranded on an island in great need of basic necessities. This passage illustrates the concept that self-awareness comes once one has hit a breaking point. Crusoe argues that one cannot be aware of their faults until their faults have forced upon them great hardship, as is his case.