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VBallestriero - The Theme of Shipwreck
[author: Veronica Giorgia Ballestriero - postdate: 2007-10-11]

Text: "Foe" by J.M. Coetzee and "Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel DefoeTask:Connection between "Foe" and "RobinsonCrusoe"


Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel De Foe and "Foe" by J.M Coetzee are considered two important novels of international literature.

While "Robinson Crusoe" was written in the 18th century, "Foe" was composed in 20th century."

Foe" is based on a revision of Robinson Crusoe, but it develops a reshaping of the plot and it introduces a new character: Susan Barton.

Another important difference with Defoe's novel is in the character of Friday.

If you make a comparison between the 1st page of "Foe" and the chapter of "Robinson Crusoe" in which the protagonist lands on a desert island, you understand that in "Foe" the theme of shipwreck is developed in the 1st page of the book while in "Robinson Crusoe" it is proposed in the 3rd chapter.

In this way Coetzee captures the reader's attention with a few elements. In "Foe" Coetzee introduces a fundamental change: the narrator is a woman and therefore the description of the shipwreck results different in Defoe's novel. In fact in "Foe" the woman: Susan Barton introduces the story referring about her feelings while in Robinson Crusoe, in which the narrator is a man (Crusoe) , the shipwreck is described as a challenge towards the hostile nature or like an attempt to save himself.

Another important element is a different vision of the island: in Robinson there is a "physical" approach with the islands, as a matter of fact he judges the landing on the island comfortable, on the contrary, Susan looks for help and then explores the island.

Coetzee uses alliteration and anaphors to create a mental picture of the setting in the reader as well as metaphors to give quality to the text.

Defoe uses a lot of adjectives to point out Robinson's confusion.

Last but not least,  the two novels have an analogy: lot of words like: "castaway", "row", "sea", "beach".. underline the semantic field of the shipwreck.