Playing God and Carving Caves

Robinson Crusoe’s The Enlightenment and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly’s Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus have very many stylistic writing differences but their stories utilize similar themes. However, when these themes are introduced into the writing, they seem to diverge almost immediately into two different outcomes. Crusoe’s writing tone is a bit more relaxed and is impartially cold when he describes the labors to make the cave into a habitable and comfortable shelter. Crusoe talks about his daily tasks of “enlarging his cave” and making furniture to change nature. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly writes much more frantically, almost as if she wants to appear she herself is as insane as Dr. Frankenstein. The making of the creature was uncontrolled and not methodically done. The writing is also more full of life and exciting. MW Shelly describes the monster coming to life and how it was lifeless and was shocked to live so suddenly. 

In both of the excerpts deal with the theme of man trying to change his surrounds and change mother nature. In Frankenstein, the monster is made from scrap pieces of dead corpses from a cemetery. This is obviously not a normal capability but the ingenious doctor figures out a way to do it and play god. In Reason, Order, and Mastery of Nature, the narrator is doing something a bit more practical, but he is essentially controlling mother nature and changing her to accommodate his needs. He changes nature by deforming the caves to make them more suitable for him and also by protecting himself from the natural harm of beasts. Although the narrator in Crusoe’s writing is a bit more successful as his task, they are both successful in initially defying mother nature’s order and making their own order.



2 thoughts on “Playing God and Carving Caves

  1. While I agree with your analysis about Defoe’s cold tone when talking about enlarging the cave, I am don’t believe that the creation of the monster was uncontrolled. In fact I believe it was extremely controlled. The creation of the monster was Frankenstein’s life, it was all he focused. The creature even talks about finding the detailed notes of his creator. I also believe that Mary Shelly’s writing was much more interesting than Defoe’s. Defoe focused on many of the mundane activities of Crusoe’s life, and Shelly delved into the feelings of her characters. Overall I believe your final conclusion was sound, and agreed with the point you made about both stories theme being trying to change your surrounding, and your conclusions over their outcomes.

  2. First, it’s important to distinguish authors from characters. Daniel Defoe is the author of the novel Robinson Crusoe, in which Crusoe is the protagonist and title character. Second, your claim that the stories “utilize different themes” is vague: what themes do they explore, and how are the stylistic treatments implemented differently, as you suggest? You need to quote from the texts in order to make these points clear.

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