Topic : How do Swift and Crusoe envision the hero’s encounter with the “other”?
2 teams = 2 extracts
Team Robinson / Team Gulliver
– 1 team member will focus on 1 question.
– The two teams will mix and discuss their findings. Take notes to complete your chart.
– We will discuss together and draw parallels or define differences between the texts.
To express similarities we use:
Both texts are / both heroes feel …
X is the same as Y
They are the same / similar
X … , so does Y.
To express differences we use:
Unlike X, Y is …
Contrary to X, Y is …
X … whereas Y …
X … while Y …
Robinson Crusoe & Gulliver’s Travels
Both Robison Crusoe and Gulliver’s travels are told from a unique point of view, that of the narrator. They are both first person narratives. “ I went about the whole island, searching for another private place” (RC l. 1-2) = “I walked very circumspectly, for fear of being surprised, or suddenly shot with an arrow from behind, or on either side.” (l. 8-10 G’sT)
The both belong to the genre of autobiographical fiction because we know that the characters are imaginary.
The setting is the same. Gulliver and Robinson are both alone and on an unknown island. Robinson notices footprints and studies his surroundings with meticulous care, so does Gulliver. Robinson’s upbringing and behavioural codes are the same as Gulliver’s : they are both disgusted and horrified at what they find, they both come from an English speaking country. Their perception of the ‘other’ is the same. They both feel superior in a way. (“ RC l.43-44 I was distinguished from such dreadful creatures as these. = G’sT l. 33 “full of contempt and aversion”.
Unlike Robinson, Gulliver behaves irrationally and is prejudiced against the yahoos. He hits one with his sword and focuses on their hair and genitals (l. 29-30 G’sT The hair of both sexes was of several colours, brown, red, black, and yellow.) which he finds disgusting.(‘ugly creatures’) In return, the Yahoos defecate on him, so the aversion is reciprocate.
On the other hand, Robinson reflects on cannibalism and is glad he doesn’t share the same inhuman condition. (RC l. 42-44 “… gave God thanks, that had cast my first lot in a part of the world where I was distinguished from such dreadful creatures as these” He seems more rational in his observations and more religious too.
Contrary to cannibalism which existed at the time, the Yahoos and Houyhnhnms are imaginary and grotesque. Robinson Crusoe is more realistic than Gulliver’s travel.