The Fight For Life: Ode to a Nightingale vs. Robinson Crusoe

Throughout the excerpt from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe there is a major focus on order. Defoe also gives Crusoe the unshakeable will to live. In the excerpt from John Keats “Ode to a Nightingale” the speaker is numb to the world, and is envious of the Nightingale’s blissful ignorance. In the poem, the speaker has simply given up and wishes to just disappear from the world as opposed to Crusoe who is actively trying to survive. Crusoe spends time organizing his salvages, and making a place for him to put everything. The speaker in Keats however, fantasizes about drinking wine to escape, “O, for a drought of vintage!” (p. 911) and feels as if he is on drugs, “My sense, as though hemlock I had drunk.” (p. 911). The difference between the two characters is that the speaker in the poem is content with fading away into a drugged stupor and life passing him by. Crusoe on the other hand is still working toward getting the things he wants, “I began to apply myself to make such necessary things as I found I most wanted…” (para 2) despite being shipwrecked on the island alone.
Both authors use extremely different styles. Keats creates a psychedelic picture that makes the reader feel happy, wistful, and melancholy all at the same time. The poem makes the reader feel as if they are in the state in between sleeping and waking, when a person can still remember their dreams. Defoe paints a picture for the reader through logic and reason. He goes as far as to tell the reader the direction in which Crusoe is digging, and how he can’t build another raft “[Crusoe] found the sky overcast, and the wind began to rise, and in a quarter of an hour it blew a fresh gale from the shore.” (para 3). Defoe’s attention to detail in his writing paints a clear picture for the reader to imagine without much effort. When reading “Ode to a Nightingale” the reader has to access much more of their imagination to be able to picture the world through the purple haze of Keats’ words.

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2 thoughts on “The Fight For Life: Ode to a Nightingale vs. Robinson Crusoe

  1. I definitely agreed with you in my own post about how Crusoe tries to control his surroundings, but I explained it in a sort of disfiguring mother nature way. I like the contrast that you made on lines 4-6 about how Crusoe is actively trying to survive while in Nightingale it seems as if he has given up. Overall, I completely agreed with your post and used very similar comparisons and contrast between Crusoe and Shelly’s writings. Great Post!

  2. I’m sure Jimi would appreciate the “Purple Haze” allusion. Let me ask you this, though: Would the speaker of “Ode to a Nightingale” really be feeling numb to the world if numbness is in fact what he desires? Let’s try to read between these lines a bit more in class.

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