Ackland Museum Visit

I have taken a lot of English courses throughout my life, each with their own unique spin, and each with their own unique set of books that I am told to read and examine. While I have been asked to compare novels to things in the past, I acknowledged recently that there are endless interpretations to the way that people can perceive things. One of the most iconic lines in To Kill a Mockingbird is when Atticus says, “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” Reading this as a kid was a very important life lesson for me and this quote flashed through my head as we were looking at various pieces of art at the Ackland. I have always been able to acknowledge the presence of different viewpoints and I like to think that I keep an open mind when it comes to people with differing opinions than my own. Seeing the various depictions of art at the Ackland about the same overarching topic illuminated the fact that people can have vastly different viewpoints on things. For example, the first and second paintings that we examined at the Ackland both depicted the fall of man but in completely different ways. The first one we examined was in black and white and had Adam and Eve at the forefront of the image. They were also depicted as the lightest things in the picture which made them really stand out and overall it seemed like a more harsh and serious way of depicting the fall of man… more stereotypically correct. This was drastically different than the second depiction of the fall of man which was in color, only contained Eve, had way more animals, and depicted the tree and the serpent as the main focus. Additionally, Eve was African American in the second painting whereas in the first one she was white.

If someone examined the two paintings side by side, they could quickly glean that they are two vastly different interpretations of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden yet they both represent the fall of man. I think this was a perfect way to wrap up the semester as this also applies to the adaptations we have read in class. For example, Robinson Crusoe and the movie “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” both portrayed the same concept, yet they were vastly different interpretations. I think this has a lot to do with audience. Robinson Crusoe was published in the early 18th century and appealed to an audience that was completely different than “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” which was released in 1964. Historical context, location, and time period have a lot do with the way that an audience examines art, literature, film, or the like. The second interpretation of the fall of man, the one with color, was painted by an African-American artist who chose to interpret the fall of man in a completely different way. She chose to focus on the positive aspects of a newly created world by using bright colors and making Eve appear innocent. This greatly contrasts the stereotypical view of the fall of man as Adam, and especially Eve, were seen as corrupt. In the first piece of art Eve acknowledges the serpent holding on to the fruit of knowledge yet she reaches out for it and attempts to take it. In the second piece of art, Eve is seen almost stroking the serpent, as if she is curious and wants to understand more about the animal. She isn’t depicted reaching for the fruit but the animal itself. Visiting the Ackland museum showed me that varying depictions of topics can ultimately display the same thing, just in their own, unique way. I think this is what makes adaptations powerful. It allows the reader/viewer/listener to see something in a completely different light.

Wilson Library Visit

Everyone has their own preferences. Whether it be preferred taste such as chocolate over vanilla, entertainment medium such as books over movies, or climate temperature such as hot over cold.  Our preferences and beliefs effect how we make decisions and what we feel about certain things. However, when analyzing the impact of factors such as personal preferences, time is often an important element that is overlooked. Time is the main factor that resonated with me when visiting Wilson Library. While reading Robinson Crusoe, Foe, and Frankenstein it didn’t take a long time for me to decide whether I liked the book. As a matter of fact, it was hard for me to believe that some of the novels were/are so popular. Investigating old versions, adaptations, and appropriations of some of the popular texts that we read at Wilson library opened my eyes to how time period can affect the way that people interpret, respond, or react to novels.

A prime example of this is comparing the version of Robinson Crusoe we read in class to the versions on display at Wilson Library. I found Robinson Crusoe particularly difficult to read as it seemed repetitive, boring, and unrealistic more often than naught. Although I knew it was written between the late 17th to early 18th century, I didn’t truly acknowledge this fact before reading at the Wilson Library. Components of the novel that seemed boring to me were probably a lot more exciting to read during the period when it was written. While there are many factors that can influence this, some of the main factors include the intersection of technology and exploration. Exploration was at its height when Robinson Crusoe was published which gave the novel a sense of credibility because as people in the real world were adventuring, so was Crusoe, making it more relatable. As previously mentioned in my last blog post, the allure of the island Crusoe was stranded on is one of the reasons why the book was so popular when it was originally published. This is because contextually it made sense as the world was at its height of exploration. Yet at the same time because of this exploration it is fascinating that Crusoe managed to become stranded on an island completely uninhabited. Crusoe wasn’t able to check his surroundings with the use of technology as he did not have the technology that we use today. So, the fact that he was stranded on an island with no way to contact people makes the story more relevant to the time period in which it was written. Thus, the novel had a certain allure during that time period that it can’t replicate today. Because the world is massively populated now, and we are spread out across the globe, the desertion seems unlikely, which is probably why I didn’t really enjoy reading Robinson Crusoe. What seems unlikely and boring to me was most likely believable and exciting in the past.

To me this is also evident in George Cruikshank’s version of Robinson Crusoe that we examined at Wilson Library. The small version of the novel and the fact that it was so worn suggests that it wasn’t of the highest quality, but well used. While this can mean many things, I interpreted it as this Robinson Crusoe novel was affordable which explains why it was so popular as books were expensive during the period. I also think the intricate drawings on Cruikshank’s copy as well as how worn it was showed that it was beloved by him. This further exemplifies how time period can affect someone’s preferences and the way they respond to certain factors.

The Island: Heaven or Hell?

If you could choose three things to bring on a deserted island, what would you choose? This is a question most people have come contemplated at some point in their lives whether it be jokingly as a youth, to determine one’s psychological makeup, or as an ice breaker to get to know people. Islands are often viewed in paradoxical ways. One person may perceive an island as a way to escape one’s station in life or a specific situation, or as a safe haven. Another person may perceive an island as a trap, an inescapable purgatory. It is often up to the individual reader, or author, to decide which connotation an island might have. In Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe believes the island is grandiose, maybe even a utopia, that exists away from human society. Despite the obvious downsides the island possesses (such as the cannibals and limited human connectivity) and the initial adjustment period Crusoe must endure as he adapts to his new life, Crusoe quickly begins to enjoy his time on the island. Upon arrival, Crusoe dubs the island as the “Island of Despair” in his journal (Defoe). However, it doesn’t take long for Crusoe to warm up to the idea of life on the Island because of the simplicity of life. As a matter of fact, he is quick to affirm his ownership over his newfound land as he alludes to the island as “a secret kind of pleasure” (Defoe). Crusoe even goes so far as to claim “[he] was king and lord of all this [island] indefensibly and had a right of possession; and if [he] could convey it, [he] might have it in inheritance as completely as any lord of a manor in England” (Defoe). The island gives Crusoe the ability to do something that traditionally implies wealth: “Ownership” of land. When Crusoe establishes his existence on the island and expands his scope of land, he is also staking a claim that he is the head of social order. He is now the King of the island.

I think that the island in Robinson Crusoe is seen even more as a safe haven for Crusoe as his time on the island stretches over decades. By exploring the island, growing crops, creating houses, and raising animals, Crusoe is effectively bettering his survival. As he continues to create and maintain the island Crusoe claims he has “no wants” as the island provides everything he needs (Defoe). According to Crusoe, why would he feel a need to rejoin society as he is perfectly fine living on an island where he is considered a King? This concept is obviously altered when Crusoe encounters a footprint in the sand, becomes paranoid, and attempts to escape the island. However, when he escapes the island, Crusoe dreams about returning, suggesting that overall, Crusoe enjoyed his time on the island and the powerful feeling that comes with the sense of ownership and self-sufficiency it provides.

The fact that Crusoe stumbles upon an uninhabited island is a very interesting factor of the book. Since Robinson Crusoe is set in the 18th century, imperialism and colonialism were at new heights as humans attempted to expand their reach across the globe and claim new land. Since colonialism was popular at the time, it is no wonder that Crusoe quickly begins to enjoy his time on the island and claim it as his own in the true spirit of colonialism. Crusoe quickly takes pride in his creation, the colonization of his island, and even longs for the island when he rejoins human society. Crusoe’s newfound “ownership” of the island gives him a sense of power which contradicts the original reaction of fear from being marooned on a deserted island. Additionally, I think that because Crusoe had to work to colonize the island by himself and sustain himself from the island alone (for the most part), he sees more value in the island itself because it shows all the work he put in to it.


Defoe, Daniel. (1661?-1731). The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved February 21, 2016, from