The Fate of the Sea

From the very beginning to the end of Robinson Crusoe, readers are able to witness Crusoe’s religious “voyage”. This Journey is not only shown through Crusoe’s journal entries and inner thoughts but portrayed by the image of the sea throughout the novel. “I sincerely gave Thanks to God for opening my Eyes, by whatever afflicting Providences, to see the former Condition of my Life, and to mourn for my Wickedness, and repent” (142). The capricious sea represents Crusoe’s relationship with divine providence. “… as the Sea was returned to its Smoothness of Surface and settled Calmness by the Abatement of that Storm, so the Hurry of my Thoughts being over, my Fears and Apprehensions of being swallow’d up by the Sea being forgotten, and the Current of my former Desires return’d, I entirely forgot the Vows and Promises that I made in my Distress” (53). When the sea is violent and relentless Crusoe is instantly penitent and quick to ask God for assistance. However, when the sea is calm and quiet Crusoe seems to forget about God and just focuses on his possessions.

In some cases, it can be argued that the sea epitomizes not Crusoe’s relationship with God but God himself. Crusoe’s expeditions appear to be governed by the unpredictable conditions of the sea. When he gets shipwrecked multiple times, his life is left up to the fate of the waves that are able to either carry him safe to shore or leave him for dead among the rocks. Thus each time Crusoe heads out to sea illustrates not only his immense desire to abandon his middle-class title but his alacrity to surrender to the divine forces of providence that dictate his fate through the duration of his life.

Davis, Evan R, and Daniel Defoe. Robinson Crusoe. Broadview Press, 2010.