Appropriation of the Oikos: Precarious Host/Guest Relations in Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe
Keywords:Daniel Defoe , Robinson Crusoe, Derrida, host, guest, oikos
Daniel Defoe’s most renowned adventure novel Robinson Crusoe introduces the eponymous protagonist as a selfmade practical man that fares more or less well in the world given his survival skills helped by a fair amount of luck. Crusoe appears to be the embodiment of Homo economicus who optimally engages with his environment to reach his self-interested ends, and such engagement accordingly points to a certain manipulation or domination of other humans, animals, and nature. Crusoe has an unabashed propensity for claiming people, nonhuman beings, places, and objects that fall under his gaze as his own throughout the narrative. In this study, Robinson Crusoe’s self-interested individualism and his deeply anthropocentric relations with the environment which appears only as a means for the anthropos to achieve his ends will be read through the lens of Derridean host/guest relations in which Crusoe is revealed to be a guest who is received in the “home” of the oikos (as in homeland, i.e., the land that receives/accommodates). In this light, it will be further argued that Crusoe’s deeply anthropocentric, expansionist, and exploitative attitude figures as a precursor to humans’ endless desire to dominate and appropriate nature (oikos), and thus become masters/hosts in the world where they are, in fact, mere guests.
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