Sunday 9 December 2012

Crusoe’s Changing Perceptions of the Fortification

Crusoe reading the bible in his habitation. The
painting illustrates the closest the habitation got to
becoming a home.
Over the series of events that occur on the island, Crusoe’s perception of his shelter against the hill continues to change. Depending on the circumstances, Crusoe’s title for the shelter changes from the tent to fortification to habitation to castle to apartment and is sometimes a mix of one or more of these titles.
            After Crusoe first sets down the stakes and pitches the tent, he refers to the shelter as the tent or the habitation. At this stage, the shelter is a place that Crusoe can return to and store things in.  Once the wall is completed, the shelter title remains the same but within the book, the focus is less on the shelter than it is on the wall. Defoe gives more detail to the wall and its construction than he does to the tent. The emphasis on the wall demonstrates Crusoe’s desperate desire for security but also demonstrates that the wall is more important to Crusoe than the tent. The tent provides Crusoe with storage and minor protection from the elements whereas the wall is a mark of property that also functions to resolve Crusoe’s insecurities towards the potential dangers of the island. Furthermore, the wall is an essential element of a shelter and it is only after the completion of wall that the shelter’s function as a shelter is finalized. Therefore, while the wall is not the shelter itself Defoe often makes reference specifically to the wall rather than the entire shelter.
In addition, the wall also changed the title of the habitation to the fortification.
Similar to the wall, once Crusoe progressed well into the creation of a kitchen and storage within the rock, the cave became another element of the shelter that he would refer separately to.
              Once Crusoe had become accustomed to life on the island, especially after the construction of the bower, the shelter was more often referred to as the habitation instead of the fortification. Presumably, Crusoe has developed some degree of comfort and even though the shelter is far from what he might consider home, it has at least become a lodging that he returns to.
            Upon finding the footprint in the sand, Crusoe immediately develops insecurities about his shelter and moves on to build an even stronger wall outside of the original. During this time, the shelter becomes his castle. This title may originate both from the increased fortification but also from the sense of ownership and authority that Crusoe has gained after the long years on the island. Crusoe feels that the shelter is like a castle that is keeping intruders out of his territory and defending him from the way of harm.
            Following the defeat of the cannibals and rescue of the Spanish crew, Crusoe has further developed his cave to provide shelter for the growing number of residents. With the development of more rooms within the cave, Crusoe precedes to call his shelter an apartment. The apartment label not only develops from the fact that more rooms exist within the shelter but also because the Spanish Captain and Crusoe are almost equal in terms of authority.  Crusoe’s lack of dominating authority also means that while the property can be considered his, his residents are not his subjects and therefore the shelter can no longer be considered a castle.
            While the Crusoe’s multiple shelters are consistently undergoing physical changes as a result of his change in needs and circumstances, there also exists a conceptual change in Crusoe’s shelters.

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