Defoe’s Perpetual Seekers: A Study of the Major Fiction by Virginia Ogden Birdsall

By Virginia Ogden Birdsall

This learn contends that the most characters in Defoe's six significant fictions symbolize a extra profound nervousness and cynicism concerning the human situation than has been often famous. From Robinson Crusoe to Roxana -- each one is engaged in a lonely and futile look for identification and value, and every pursues that objective with ruthless singlemindedness.

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22 They spend considerably less time thinking of God than contriving various devious plans for protecting their lucre from a world full of predators. Again and again, in these concluding pages, Singleton sounds the note of suspicion and mistrust. Evidently, this is the chief consideration toward which taking . thought has directed him. Again we are reminded that the smarter a person is, the more he knows enough to distrust his fellow man. The more money a person has, the more he has to lose. In the course of his travels, the only group of people Singleton meets 70 Defoe's Perpetual Seekers who are totally innocent in this respect are, ironically, those people who live so far inland from the African coast as never to have been exposed to "civilizing" influences.

276). lolJ In the event, it is not God but money that is responsible for her being able to distinguish herself from the other Newgate wretches. "I had," she says, "obtained the Favour, by the help of Money, nothing being to be done in that Place without it, not to be kept in the Condemn'd Hole ... among the rest of the Prisoners who were to die, but to have a little dii:;tyChamber to myself" (p. 290). ose "ordinary Passengers who Quartered in the Steerage" and her "old Fraternity ... " As she has written long before, or rather etched on the window of her chamber, "Money's Vertue; Gold is Fate" (p.

As for natural furies, a countering fire power obviously does not work at. all. But man need not, it is suggested, stand helpless and terrified before the onslaught, for William demonstrates that even in the midst of such confusions and terrors, "presence of Mind" can bring salvation. nd William saves the day: "had not he run very nimbly, and with a Composure that I am sure I was not Master of, to let go the Fore-sheet, set in the Weather Brace of the Foreyard, and haul'd down the Top-sails, we had certainly brought all our Masts by the Board, and perhaps have been overwhelm'd in the Sea" (p.

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