INDELIBLE IMAGE : Surely it must be one of the many tender moments when the Marquis holds a heart-to-heart talk with his own member (named Colin), although there are so many of these dialogues that we will need to narrow down our search further. We’ll select the moment when Colin, lacerated from having pleasured himself inside a crack in the stone prison wall, stares weakly at the Marquis while wearing a little bloody bandage wrapped around his head like a nightcap, begging the writer to tell him a story so he can recover enough strength to fornicate with a cow.
Like his hero, Defoe was a jack-of-all-trades. An outspoken Dissenter who did time for his religious beliefs in Newgate—itself a kind of desert island—he worked as a hosier, tile maker, wine importer, horse dealer, oyster farmer, perfumer, linen trader, pamphleteer, and spy before turning, at the age of fifty-nine, to fiction. As Watt points out, only a society such as Defoe’s own, well advanced in the division of labor, could find the minutiae of Crusoe’s chores as engrossing as Crusoe himself does: “ ’Tis a little wonderful, and what I believe few People have thought much upon, ( viz .) the strange multitude of little Things necessary in the Providing, Producing, Curing, Dressing, Making and Finishing this one Article of Bread,” he rhapsodizes about his newfound skill as a baker.
While Ferdinand’s formality is in some ways endearing, it is also in some ways disturbingly reminiscent of Prospero. Some of Ferdinand’s long speeches, especially the speech about Miranda’s virginity in Act IV, scene i, sound quite similar to the way Prospero speaks. Ferdinand is a sympathetic character, and his love for Miranda seems most genuine when he suddenly is able to break out of his verbose formality and show a strikingly simple interest in Miranda. The reader can see this when he asks Miranda, “What is your name?” (. 36 ). The reader notices it again in Act V, scene i when he jests with her over a game of chess, and when he tells his father, who asks whether Miranda is “the goddess that hath severed us, / And brought us together,” that “she is mortal” (. 190–191 ). Ferdinand agrees to marry Miranda in a scene in which he has been, like Caliban, hauling logs for Prospero. Unlike Caliban, however, Ferdinand has been carrying wood gladly, believing that he serves Miranda. The sweet humbleness implicit in this belief seems to shine through best at the times when Ferdinand lets go of his romantic language.