EnglishEssay1 IC 07

EnglishEssay1 IC 07 - Professor Stern Introduction to...

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Professor Stern Introduction to Fiction 3/20/2007 #1 Crusoe and Imperialism There are many historical accounts available about imperialism during Defoe's time, but it is rare to find first hand accounts that make the reader truly understand the time period. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe may not be a first hand historical account, but it is nevertheless a very vivid painting of the English imperialistic mindset from the time. It may not explain the “why” of the English people's acquiescence of imperialism, but it very accurately explains the “how”. Defoe does a magnificent job of reinforcing the then popular imperialistic thought by presenting the adventures of Crusoe as an innocent story of a man's journey through life. English imperialism brought upon the largest civilization of all time. It involved the colonizing of many countries too weak to defend themselves, and completely changed the face of the world. From Africa to India to the Americas, English rule and ideology was imposed upon the people therein. Civilizations that might have developed in completely different fashion were now developing in the English fashion. Cultures were crushed and tossed aside, and seeds were planted for problems that many previously colonized countries face today. Today, we know that the English colonization was perhaps one of the most destructive forces in known history, equivalent to war in many respects. Yet, England was a civilized and well developed country that was the birthplace of many great things – such as the allowance of free thought, many scientific discoveries, many important philosophical, economic, and political thoughts that still influence society today. How could such an enlightened country, filled with such enlightened individuals, commit such abhorrences? Today it is nearly impossible to comprehend how such great minds could produce such logical and important thoughts, yet not only allow but agree with such horrible and destructive acts. The answer to this question is found in books
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and poems just like Robinson Crusoe, as well as a successful political ideology . The English people were nearly brainwashed to think that by conquering a people, they were doing them a favor. The “why” of the English people's acquiescence of imperialism becomes clearer with this understanding. Being hundreds of miles away and without accurate information, it is easier to see how this could happen. The English people were taught to understand that the conquered people were complete savages and without God. That the savages not only needed to be conquered and raised up to the level of England so they could have better lives, but they wanted to be as well. It was almost as if England were the parents and the rest of the world, the children. Of course, there was a price for these conquered people to receive enlightenment, it seemed for every country that was colonized, another coin was dropped into England's collective pocket. If this was not enough for the skeptics, then the art of story was, especially since writers like Defoe managed to be so convincing. It is no wonder in
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